I have a confession to make. Despite the fact that the Festival of Sukkot is my favorite Jewish celebration and despite the fact that I have, for many years, erected a sukkah at home, and despite the fact that I have, over the decades, always encouraged others to do so.....I have never spent an entire night in a sukkah.

That is about to change....on Saturday night, October 15th. It is then that I,  Pamela Rothstein, Director of Lifelong Learning, and any other members of the congregation who wish to join us, will spend the night in the congregation’s courtyard sukkah. We will be fusing our desire to fulfill the mitzvah of “dwelling in the sukkah” with a vital tzedakah opportunity–raising badly needed funds for the Housing Assistance Corporation.

Some background: for twenty-five years the Housing Assistance Corporation sponsored an across-the-Cape fund-raising walk to help pay for the vital services it provides through homeless shelters, homelessness prevention programs and a host of related activities. HAC does stellar work in addressing the all-too-real-and-enduring problem of homelessness among our neighbors. After twenty-five years, HAC was seeing diminishing returns from that annual walk and decided it was time to move in a different direction.

For some twenty of those twenty-five years, the Falmouth Jewish Congregation had a team walking in that event, co-captained for many years by Viv and Sam Trotz. More importantly, we raised significant sums of money for HAC each year, eventually becoming the faith community that consistently raised more money than any other on Cape, raising anywhere from $5,000-7,000 per year.

With the disappearance of the walk, we were faced with the challenge of energizing the FJC community to, once again, support HAC in a meaningful way. Pamela Rothstein and I set to work, trying to find a way to fuse our desire to maintain our commitment to HAC and its goals with an appropriately Jewish mechanism for so doing. We realized that the Festival of Sukkot, with it’s prominent symbol of a fragile shelter, would provide a wonderful opportunity to achieve our goal. Here’s what we have in mind–“Sukkah-A-thon 5772!”

A longstanding Jewish tradition bids us invite into our sukkah each night of the festival, ushpizin-–honorary and imagined guests. Traditionally these include the patriarchs and matriarchs of our tradition. We are expanding that concept and inviting every FJC member to “sponsor” ushpizin of their choosing to spend the night with us in the sukkah. We ask only that you donate to HAC $10.00 for each imaginary guest you invite.

Use your imagination! Invite every Jewish Olympic gold-medal winner you can think of; invite every Jewish composer whose music you cherish; invite your favorite Jewish educators from your childhood; invite your favorite Biblical heroes; invite your favorite Jewish directors or actors. There is absolutely no limit to how many ushpizin we can accommodate in our sukkah! And the goal is to raise as much money as we can for HAC, hopefully as much as our walk efforts raised in prior years. [And if you can’t think of any ushpizin to invite, a check for HAC will still be most welcome!]

Click on the words "Sukkah-A-Thon 5772 donation form" to download a form on which you can list the ushpizin you’re inviting: Sukkah-A-Thon 5772 donation form. We will print out a list, for display in our sukkah, of all the ushpizin being sponsored that evening so please feel free to tell us why you’re inviting the guests you’ve selected. Checks should be made payable to “HAC” and mailed to, or dropped off in, the office by Tuesday, October 11th. Donations to the Housing Assistancce Corporation are tax-deductible.

If you cannot join us physically for a night in the sukkah, please send sponsored ushpizin as your representatives. Let’s fill our FJC sukkah not only with the joy of the festival but with hundreds of sponsored ushpizin whose presence will bring a measure of comfort to our neighbors on Cape Cod contending with, or facing the possibility, of homelessness.

Reb Elias