Indeed, The Fifth Time’s a Charm: How I Spent Sukkot in Japan (High Holidays, Part 3)





Hallo zusammen,

Geht’s euch gut?

I had a German friend help me out with this intro.

This post is going to be a light read. Today I wanted to express my full-blast joy from experiencing Sukkot abroad. Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, is a Jewish holiday where Jews, as well as non-Jews if they wish, spend every evening for a week under a Sukka (rectangular-ish tent) to remember G-d’s might that saved Jews from Egyptian bondage. It’s been almost three years since I last spent Sukkot back at home, and every year it seems like a huge hassle to find a place to celebrate it. Oh, but this year-

This year I spent it in five different places. What a blessing.

The first Sukkot I spent in Tokyo. The Sukkah was inside the congregation, and all the guests (old, young, parents) hung the decorations together. We then sat together to eat, danced a little, and I even contributed to the worship by playing the drum (I never realized how hard it is to maintain a beat for a long time). The first picture I attached below is my friend dancing with one of the babies under the Sukkah in Tokyo. It was a blast.

The second day I spend in Nagoya, and oh wow what a wonderful event. The local congregation invited a group of homeless people to help build the Sukka, there was food and laughter, and SO MANY CHILDREN. It was such a blessing to see so many young kids celebrating the holiday. The second photo shows the head of the congregation and guest speaker (my ‘adoptee’ grandpa) under the Sukka.

The third day I went down and celebrated in Osaka with the wonderful woman that I talked about in the post about generosity. The venue was small, but we danced together, prayed, and has the most terrific Israeli food I have yet to taste in Japan. Hummus, tehina, matbuha, salad – look them up, they are all very good dishes.

The fourth day I spent the evening with my friends. Since I wanted to keep the ‘law’ of sitting under the Sukkah, I invited my fellow JDP (Joint Degree Program) friends to sit under one of the verandas on campus. We stayed until late, and even almost got locked in the school.

The fifth day I went to a Sukka building event in Kyoto, a place that has hosted my family and I five years ago for free when we came to tour Japan. It was a nice and calm afternoon, and we all sat together having a bento box that featured Japanese style Israeli food. It was quite the treat, if I say so myself.

The last two days I spent the holiday calmly on my own. It was not too exciting. However, I cannot be happier with everyone’s kindness and thoughtfulness. It was a time of great fun!

To be honest, this past month has been a literal roller-coaster. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Unlike Israel, I didn’t have the whole month off to celebrate them all. I have been trying to celebrate my own Jewish culture’s celebration, yet there is so much more to consider – the local celebrations that are taking place in Japan (festivals usually concerned with Autumn and the changing colors), the global celebrations (Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s), AND other celebrations from my American and Russian heritage (Thanksgiving and Russian New Year’s). Guys, its also going to be my mother and sister’s birthdays.

Most people would say ‘the third time’s a charm’ – but you know what,

I think every time is a charm.