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The holiday of Sukkot is here and the Sukkah is our home for a good week. As such, we must decorate it.
I am here to help make the task of decorating a joyful process for you. I shall share with you the Sukkah decorations that I've seen in every community and some new ideas that will help you bring more festivity to your holiday.
Before anything, make sure you have a lot of fish wire. We are going to be hanging stuff. Fish wire is your decorating tool.
Here are the top artistic Sukkah decorations of our people:
Every Sukkah I have seen has fly tape. This is placed there to attract bugs. Don’t worry. You don’t have to place flies on the tape for décor. The flies will come. Give it an evening.
Honey Bucket with Opening
As bees are not attracted to fly tape, many people hang this to draw more bees to the Sukkah.
Some are afraid that the bees will get to the honey on the Challah. Thus, they hang a huge jar of honey in the Sukkah.
The Sukkah is likened by many to Avraham's tent, and we invite the Ushpizin. It is a welcoming environment. The honey bucket ensures that the swarms that come to your home will feel welcome and have a place of their own.
No Sukkah is fully decorated until the Christmas lights are hung.
Tradition is to not buy these until January. Jews don’t purchase Christmas products, until after Christmas, when they go on sale. Then, the Hershey’s Kisses with the red and green silver foil is a Jewish product. I picked these lights up in the religious area of Meah Shearim. My eighth Sukkot in Israel and I started celebrating Christmas in Fall. The weather outside was delightful. I say, what us religious Jews don’t know shouldn’t hurt us. If you look close enough, you can see that the guy with the red hat has a long white beard. That’s Jewish to me.
Almost as good as Christmas lights.
Known as the Holiday of Harvest, fruit and vegetables are very important to Sukkot. It is Jewish custom to not eat fruit if it’s not in pie form. Thus, we celebrate the harvest by hanging it.
Some people may eat canned fruit, but I have not seen that hung in a Sukkah yet. If you are going to hang canned fruit, be sure to keep it in the can; otherwise, it drips and then slips right off the fish wire.
We are a traditional people and we look for objects to commemorate significant parts of our Jewish life, such as the bucket of fruit we cannot eat in my parent's dining room.
Many decorate the Sukkah with plastic fruit, which is reminiscent of regular fruit. Decorating with an fruit would not be commemorative. You decorate with a plastic apple to commemorate an apple. By not using the real thing it makes it more of a tradition, and more meaningful. In their query of why anybody would have plastic fruit, people may even ask, “What does the plastic fruit represent?” To which you can make it a meaningful interaction by telling them, “Fruit.”
I have no idea when gourds became a decoration. They are the ugliest fruits. For some reason, fruit that looks like a giant tadpole mixed with a toad is the number one Sukkah ornament. Pumpkins would make sense, but Halloween claimed those. Hence, we stick to the weird shaped stuff.
Your Child’s Art from School That You Would Like to Throw Out
Have no room in the house for the hand-paint art project? I mean, the painting of your child’s hand. The work of art where your child put their hands in paint and then placed their hand on a piece of paper. Want to throw that out? Put it in the Sukkah. After Sukkot, you can say you lost it. If you're lucky, the rain will get to it.
Any Jewish Arts and Crafts Project
You have no idea what to use it for. That, my friends, is a Sukkah decoration.
The Chanukah candle holder slab of wood with nuts on it Chanukah. It was fun when you made it, but it doesn’t look like a Chanukiah and it doesn’t hold candles. Hang it from your Sukkah. The cloth that you knitted together to hold the Matzah on Passover. That was a cute idea, until the matzah caught onto the cloth and I ended up eating the felt. Again, a perfect decoration.
The classic. The number two Sukkah decoration, right behind the creepy fruit of the Lagenaria and Cucurbita family with toad bumps on it.
The way to make the paper chain is to cut the paper in strips and then to put one circle in the other. That, my students, is Jewish origami. Jewish origami is similar to regular origami. However, we use staples. We are not fools. It is much easier with staples. I am surprised the people of the Far East haven’t figured that out yet.
Anything origami makes for a good decoration. Just remember to make your origami the Jewish way and use staples. It is more artistic this way, and it takes less studying.
Paper That Opens
Any paper that is flat and then becomes three-D when accordionized, that is a decoration. You might have to wait till after Easter to pick these up.
You’re outside, in the garden, make it a party. Lighting some tiki torches is the perfect way to burn down the other decorations. You can call it an accident when your child’s arts and crafts project is finally gone.
7 Species of Israel
This is not species of the animal kingdom. These are Israel’s seven species of vegetation, and a beautiful way to traditionally adorn your Sukkah. Do not decorate you Sukkah with living animals. The only animals you should be decorating your Sukkah with are dead flies and bees.
No matter what you chose to decorate your Sukkah with, first see what your children bring home from Jewish School. You might want to hang that in the Sukkah. You will probably not want it in the house. If you're lucky, they might bring home an artistic gourd with a hole in it and fish wire.
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I was going to do Kaparos before Yom Kippur, but I chickened out.
You get it? Kaparos is the tradition of placing your sins on something else, the day before Yom Kippur, traditionally a chicken, and waiving it. He chickened out of the chicken. He might've done it with money in the end. But that would still be without a chicken.
Designated stroller parking area. Something every shul needs, so I can get through the entrance on Yom Kippur... Truth is they should have stroller parking all the time. The entrance is always blocked.
Problem: Merv and Bernie will end up parking there. They already take the disabled parking spots and walk just fine. When it comes to parking, every member of our congregation is disabled.
Side Note: Figured out why so many kids come to shul on Yom Kippur. Because they get to eat in shul on Yom Kippur.