Did you have one? A childhood imaginary friend?

“Many young children (about 65 percent) develop imaginary friends between the ages of 3 and 5, at a time when they are beginning to form their own identities and test the boundaries between fantasy and reality. Although it was generally believed that children outgrow imaginary friends by the time they enter school, research shows that nearly one-third continue to play with imaginary friends through age 7.”

[“When Your Child’s Friend Is Imaginary”, Anita Gurian, PhD on www.aboutkids.org]

As best I recollect, I never had an imaginary friend. Which may be the reason that I am especially enthusiastic about our Sukka-thon Ushpizin Project because I get the opportunity to imagine our courtyard sukkah filled with imaginary guests whom I’ve invited to share the festival with me…distant friends and relatives, loved-ones gone from this life, Biblical personages, rock-star heroes of mine, authors, artists, comics, scientists, philosopher-kings, social-justice firebrands, movie-stars, politicians, explorers, poets and dreamers.

There’s only one catch….for each imaginary guest I invite into the sukkah, I must contribute $10.00 to help support the work of Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) because our sukkah, a symbolic temporary home, is a poignant reminder of how many of our neighbors go homeless each night.

Ushpizin is an Aramaic word that means “guests”, particularly the imaginary biblical personages that Judaism bids us welcome into the sukkah each year. For our fund-raising effort we encourage ourselves to think of ushpizin as anyone whose imagined presence would enliven our experience of this beautiful harvest festival.

Over the course of the past few years we’ve had many hundreds of imagined guests in our sukkah and, as a consequence, have raised thousands of dollars to address issues of homelessness on Cape Cod.

It’s not too late to invite your own imaginary friends to our sukkah. Forms are available through the temple office if you missed the one in last month’s Newsletter. Checks should be made payable to “HAC”. As we do each year, we will post a full list of our ushpizin by the entrance to the sukkah.

So re-live your childhood….invite an imaginary friend–or ten!–to help deepen your experience of Sukkot.

Reb Elias