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Becoming Ushpizin 

10/12/2022 03:24:49 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

Moadim L’Simchah! It’s hard to believe that we’re halfway through the wonderful celebration of Sukkot and just days away from Simchat Torah. Time has flown by these past few weeks. They’ve been a whirlwind of prayer, joy, community, and gratitude. As we continue to experience the wonder of Sukkot, I’m reminded of the lovely tradition of inviting ushpizin into our midst.

What, or rather who are ushpizin? This Aramaic word for “guests” refers to the people we welcome into our Sukkah in order to provide them with hospitality, a meal, shelter, a place to celebrate the joy of the holiday. In some traditions, ushpizin are spiritual guests, such as our matriarchs, patriarchs, and other ancestors we wish to bring into our Sukkah.

The addition of ushpizin reminds us of the mitzvah to care for the needy, to provide for others, to treat our neighbors with respect and kindness, and to reach out to those in need of support and help. Here at CBI, we found ourselves in need of shelter, of a place to provide us with hospitality and care during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We became ushpizin at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church.

Last week, Sarah Avner posted a beautiful blog expressing gratitude to the wonderful staff and volunteers from CBI. Now, we take a moment to express our gratitude to the staff, leadership, and community of St. Matthew’s for taking us in with such graciousness and love during the High Holy Days. For those who attended services in the church, you may have noticed how considerate and kind the staff were. But what you didn’t see was the vast amount of effort and support they provided us as we essentially moved our entire synagogue to their space.

The St. Matthew’s community went above and beyond to help us in our time of need. They provided a beautiful space for us to worship, constant support and attention when various issues arose, they addressed every need quickly and efficiently, and they were always quick to say “yes” when we asked for something new. And, they did all of this without charging CBI anything. As they said to Rabbi Folberg, Sarah Avner, and me during a visit this past June, “This is something we can do for you, our new friends.”

I hope you’ll join me in expressing your gratitude to St. Matthew’s for the outpouring of love they’ve given us during our holiest time of the year. Please write a special note of thanks to the team at St. Matthew’s, or consider making a donation to the church.

We refer to Sukkot as Z’man Simchateinu, the time of our joy. It has been truly joyful to become ushpizin with hosts like St. Matt’s, and it gave us great joy to invite them to our Sukkah this year as our ushpizin. How grateful we are to have such wonderful partners and friends in the community!   

Fri, April 19 2024 11 Nisan 5784