Happy Sukkot! Living in an urban and suburban environment makes it harder to practice Sukkot as a harvest festival. For many, it doesn’t have the same significance as it had in ancient times. Going to synagogues for special Sukkot liturgy, the Hakafot and the waving of the Lulav and Etrog, is not practiced by most Jews. Building and eating, perhaps even sleeping, in a Sukkah is even less common.
Over time our sages have tried to enrich the holiday with special spiritual significance beyond Sukkot as an agricultural festival. The Kabbalists have drawn parallels with Sukkot and the seven divine attributes on the Kabbalistic Tree. Our sages created the custom of Ushpizin, welcoming ancestors, our matriarchs and patriarchs, into the Sukkah. Today we may invoke the names of other mentors.
Sukkot has become my favorite holiday because of all the layers of meaning. What resonates most for me is the return to nature and renewal of life that we draw from the natural world and can give back.
Yesterday, fourteen of us gathered at Lafayette Park across from the White House to celebrate Sukkot, offer gratitude to the Life Source, Mekor Chayim, for earth and harvest. In the driving rain we sang and rejoiced, not terribly minding the powerful rain after two months of drought. But our main purpose was to bring attention to the climate crisis, to pray for the healing of the earth and to confront the immoral powers that are destroying this planet. After a contemporary water libation ceremony, where we, humans, served as the altar for the healing waters, we walked to Chase Bank.
At JP Morgan Chase Bank we tried to address the irresponsible and overwhelming financial support that JP Morgan provides to the fossil fuel industry. They are the leading financial institution in the world that is contributing to the destruction of life on this planet. We spoke with one of the bank’s officials and gave him a letter to deliver to the Bank manager, not available that day. Similar actions are taking place all around the country. Last month activists entered Chase in Silver Spring. The managers closed the bank for the day. Leaflets provided by Green America were distributed to customers and pedestrians explaining why Chase Bank was closed.
Sukkot has taken on new meaning because of the climate crisis.
If you bank at Chase or hold a Chase credit card then you have power to make a difference. You can question them about their investments. You can divest from that bank and change your credit card to a green or socially responsible provider. If hundreds of thousands of us do this their board of directors will be motivated to change their ways. As the bank official said to me yesterday, “it’s all about money.”
Here’s a link about green credit cards https://greenamerica.org/responsiblecards
V’Samachta b’chagecha, You shall rejoice with you holidays! Join us at Sanctuary this coming Shabbat of Sukkot if you can.
Join us at 6th and I this Monday night for Simchat Torah by clicking here! . Let’s rejoice together, Reb David