A Sukkah Party Not To Be Missed

Simcaht-Beit-HaShoevaThis year at Beth Jacob, on the Saturday night of Sukkot, we’re putting on a simchat beit hashoeva, a torchlight outdoor party of fantastic proportions.
In rabbinic texts, Sukkot is chag, the holiday.  In temple times, when a person said just chag there would be no question what they meant – as the culmination of the year’s intense beginning, Sukkot was the festival, the moment of release, the time of our greatest joy.  We get ourselves outside our homes, outside our routines, outside our usual relationships, and in the liminal vulnerability of our sukkot, spaces that are not inside and not fully outdoors, we experience the pure joy of exposure in company.  In temple times, that would have included the joy of the greatest national barbeque of all time.
On Sukkot, the Mishna teaches, the world is judged about water.  In a good year, this is when rain starts to fall in the land of Israel, the rains that will sustain the crops and harvests and ultimately the existence of every human being in the region.  Each morning of Sukkot there would be a water libation in the ancient temple, a small human offering with the hope that soon the heavens would open and pour forth the water from above.  And then in the evening, the uncertainty of future rains yielded to the hopeful joy of the present through the explosive festivities at the beit hashoeva, the place of water drawing.  There were music and dancing, and such crowds that the torch light would illuminate the entire city.  There was no courtyard in Jerusalem, teaches the Talmud, which was not illuminated by the light of the beit hashoeva.
The tremendous joy of Sukkot is just as portable as the lulav and etrog.  This year at Beth Jacob, we’ll be putting on our own Simchat Bet HaShoeva: A Sukkah Party not to be Missed.  Under the talented leadership of David Harris and Judith Brin Ingber, a troupe of local musicians, dancers, and acrobats will perform outdoors in torchlight on the Saturday night of Sukkot.  They will invite us into the performance; our own voices and movement will be part of the festival.
Join the celebration!  Simchat Beit HaShoeva Saturday night, September 21 at 8pm at Beth Jacob Congregation, 1179 Victoria Curve, Mendota Heights.  We’ll begin with havdallah in the sukkah and process to the torch-lit performance grounds.