GLBT Families Come OUT to Decorate the Sukkah With GLOE

by Rachel Antonoff, intern for the Kurlander Program for Gay and Lesbian Outreach and Engagement (GLOE)

A sukkah is supposed to be built in a very specific, very open way.

Just a liiiiiittle higher!By that, I mean that the sukkah has some regulations for what can and cannot be done, but all with the intention of openness in mind: the walls must be strong enough not to fall over in the wind, with a minimum of three walls, covered with foliage for the roofing which may not be nailed down. The sukkah may not be a permanent fixture—you should put it up for Sukkot and take it down afterward, though the time frame is flexible—and it must be outdoors, so that you can see the stars through the roof, and there ought to be a doorway with no door.

The doorway with no door was always my favorite part of the rules: the sukkah is to be a place where anyone can hear and see what is happening inside and join in without any hesitation. No door means no barrier and no exclusion. And this past Sunday, Gay & Lesbian Outreach and Engagement (GLOE) and Early Childhood, Youth and Families at the 16th Street J opened the sukkah walls to LGBT and Allied families for “Come OUT and Decorate the Sukkah,” a morning filled with fun, games, learning, and nosh.

Spin That Hula Hoop!

Then we played some games: we threw bean bags into targets for prizes and ran relays, spun hula hoops and played tic-tac-toe, fulfilling the mitzvah of laughing and being merry on Sukkot.Shake Shake Shake

Lastly, what would a Jewish event be without food? One of the most important—and popular—mitzvot during sukkot is to eat under the sukkah, so we all enjoyed some kosher Krispy Kreme donuts and fresh apple cider from the first of the season’s apple harvest.

Families of all shapes and sizes came OUT to decorate our sukkah at the 16th Street J, and everyone had a fun morning!GLOE Sukkot 10-3-09046GLOE Sukkot 10-3-09034

GLOE and Early Childhood, Youth & Families hopes to see everyone again at our next event for LGBT families, “All Fired Up for Chanukah,” on December 6. We’ll be going to All Fired Up in DC and painting ritual holiday items to take home or to give as a gift. Registration is limited to ten families, so register as soon as possible to save your family a spot! Go to the website to RSVP and for more information. Can’t wait to see you there!


Last night Jon Stewart noted, “It’s Sukkot, which is the Hebrew word meaning, “How many holidays can Jews fit into one month?”

Truly, the Jewish holiday season is non-stop action – from the reflective mood of Rosh Hashanah to the boisterous dancing at Simchat Torah, the holiday where we celebrate the yearly completion of the reading of the Five Books of Moses.

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How do we get the most out of this holiday season? I believe the preparation is the answer. And not only material preparation (shopping, cooking, etc.) But spiritual preparation.

Taking time to examine our behavior and our relationships brings deeper meaning to the High Holidays. And Sukkot, when we build and dwell in portable homes (Sukkot)  offers us an opportunity to reflect on the many blessings of having a permanent home – particularly in this year of foreclosures economic troubles.
Taking time to prepare enables maximum experience.

This fall, the Washington DCJCC is offering a different kind of preparation opportunity,   “Tying the Knot:  Pre-Marriage Workshop for Couples.” Wedding preparations can be stressful and overwhelming. And yet how much time do we devote to our spiritual preparations for the big day? “Tying the Knot” offers engaged couples a safe space to explore issues central to forming a healthy and happy marriage in a Jewish context.

Sarah Gershman is the Jewish Education Associate for the Leo and Anna Smilow Center for Jewish Living and Learning at the Washington DCJCC. Her children’s book The Bedtime Shma won the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

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