Yes, Erev Rosh HaShanah begins on Sunday, yet, as we turn to the Hashkivenu, I’m thinking about Sukkot. “Ufros alenu sukkat shlomecha- spread over us a sukkah of peace.” When we sit in our Sukkot in a few short weeks, we are reminded of the fragility of our homes and the vulnerability of the lives we take for granted. For us, it is a one-week consciousness-raising experience that ignites our appreciation for the blessings in our lives, spurring us to action to relieve the suffering of those in our communities who are homeless.
For hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, there is not only no permanent home, but not even a Sukkat Shalom, a peaceful temporary dwelling. There is only wandering, wandering with which our people are entirely too familiar. The wandering Jews- we know what it is like to have no home and no place that we are welcome. Avraham and Sarah were known for having their tent open on all 4 sides so that they could invite guests coming from every direction into their home.
This is our legacy- it is in our DNA as Jews. We cannot help but open our hearts to the situation of those fleeing violence and persecution. Yesterday, URJ President, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, sent a letter to President Obama and to leaders of the Senate and House. He wrote, “Our great nation must respond immediately by providing safety, food, shelter, refuge, and dignity. How can a nation built by refugees from political persecution turn our back on refugees fleeing religious and political persecution? It cannot.”
As we enter these Yamim Noraim, we pray for courage and compassion, and for wisdom to discern how we may best address the root causes of this humanitarian crisis, how we may welcome and resettle these refugees, and how we may provide for their basic needs, enabling them to rebuild their lives with dignity.
The whole world is a fragile Sukkah. Spread over us a sukkah of peace.