Shabbat Shalom: Abundance of Blessings and Joy

Sep 28, 2023 | Article

Shabbat Shalom: Abundance of Blessings and Joy

Sep 28, 2023

By: Cindy Coons
Director of Jewish Explorers and Family Engagement

I love this time of year, the High Holidays followed by Sukkot, when our Jewish tradition encourages us to think about the past year, reflecting on how we’ve missed the mark and how we can choose to do better in the new year. Tashlich, which means to “cast off” in Hebrew, is a beautiful ritual that traditionally takes place on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and gives us a chance to “cast away” our missteps to make room to do better in the new year. Yom Kippur gives us a chance to do T’shuvah, which literally means “to return” in Hebrew. T’shuvah is an opportunity to say sorry for things we wished we had done differently and to return to a place where we can be at one with ourselves and others in the new year. And then comes Sukkot, one of my favorite Jewish holidays of the year. Sukkot, or the festival of booths, is a weeklong holiday that comes five days after Yom Kippur. It is also called, Z’man Simchateinu, which translates to “the time of our joy.” Our sages remind us that we need to immediately move from the ten days of awe, Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, to joyfully celebrating Sukkot with the building and blessing of the Sukkah, blessing and waving lulav and etrog, and dwelling in and inviting guests to join us in the Sukkah.

Recently, I was sharing about my childhood and how my parents always welcomed others into our home with open arms and hearts. I grew up in a small beach town on Long Island during a time when we didn’t always lock our doors. My friends were like family and were always welcome in our home. I have such fond memories of how my parents hosted every holiday and would cook extra food and add chairs to our holiday table at the last minute to include anyone who didn’t have a place to go to celebrate. They so beautifully modeled hachnasat orchim –the Jewish value of inviting guests, which is one of the mitzvot for celebrating Sukkot. Sukkot gives us an opportunity to fully embrace and share this mitzvah with family, friends, and community.

After I married, my husband built our family a sukkah, expanding its size several times over the years to make room for even more guests to join us. We decided to build our sukkah with the minimum requirement of at least three walls, leaving the fourth wall wide open. We love that this open side of our sukkah allows guests to enter easily, much like the unlocked and open-door policy of my home growing up. It says to our family, friends, and community that you are welcome to join us.

For our Jewish Explorers community, the sukkah is similar with a large opening on one side so that everyone can enter easily and find a spot in the sukkah during class. We share that this reflects our values and reminds others that they are always welcome. We also talk about how even though one wall of the sukkah is open, people in our community may still need support entering the sukkah. It is our responsibility to find ways to support those who may not feel ready to enter through the open space or gather with them outside the sukkah until they are ready to join us. This is how we can show others that we see them and welcome them to join us as their authentic selves.

This year, erev Sukkot coincides with erev Shabbat. How wonderful that we get to begin both of these beautiful holidays at the same time, creating a sacred space to celebrate together with family, friends, and community. As you prepare to welcome in and celebrate Shabbat and Sukkot this evening, may you feel the warmth and light of the holiday candles and taste the sweetness of the kiddush wine and challah, may you feel sheltered and embraced by the sukkah and community and enjoy the blessings of the harvest and the abundance of blessings, and may you feel the pure joy of celebrating Shabbat and Sukkot with family, friends – old and new, and community! Wishing you and your family Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sukkot Sameach from all of us at JEWISHcolorado!

Please email Cindy Coons at with questions or comments.