jews in a box
chag sameach, again, yeesh

Tuesday afternoon, for the first festival meal of Sukkos, Will and I met up with two friends of mine in the BZBI sukkah at 18th and Spruce. For those not phamiliar with the Illadelph, 18th and Spruce is right near Rittenhouse Square, the toniest downtown 'hood. In Boston, think Back Bay. In New York, Union Square. In DC, Dupont Circle. Smaller and relaxed-er than those, cause this is Philly.

Their sukkah is a charming three-sided metal-and-tarp affair, gaily bedecked with dried corn stalks and mums and gourds (America's great contributions to the harvest festival!) and awesome Shrinky Dink ornaments of apples, stars, and Israeli flags. Hung in the sukkah were a big sign saying "chag kasher v'sameach*/Happy Sukkot!" and a plastic-encased building permit. We spread out a beautiful pink silk quilt on the sidewalk, and as if we were a living diorama, feasted on homemade bread, quinoa salad, pesto, and lentils, to the great amusement/confusion of the many passers-by. Cars, trucks, construction workers, ladies of leisure, dog-walkers: we provided spectacle to all comers.

Only two people asked what we were doing. One, a woman named Ann, had been in Turkey recently with her husband, and apparently to her we looked like we were in Turkey. Will's theory was that this resulted from the combination of bright-colored-patchwork 'rug' and grain/lentil dishes. Ann consented to be our guest, as ritually significant during Sukkos, and to eat a few slices of delicious pear.

This is the first year that I've had my own lulav and esrog, the four species of plants that are brought together and ritually shaken in the weirdest pagan holdover in Judaism. (The shaking is supposed to bring blessing--and rain.) It's nice to feel not like a hanger-on or an adjunct, waiting to share someone else's ritual objects, but large and in charge, with my own bundle of rustling palm fronds and fragrant citron.

*'happy and kosher holiday!' which I appreciate, because who else would wish you an appropriate ritually fulfilled holiday? "enjoy your parties, and DON'T FUCK UP!"

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