I had not been familiar with Sukkot growing up, as my family did not celebrate and we did not live anywhere near a Synagogue. So the first time I experienced Sukkot was during my undergraduate experience at Hillel. Our assistant director at the time had offered me the task of drawing the Etrog and Lulav as decorations for the Sukkah. While a small task, I was delighted to finally be a part of creating a joyous experience for others. Decorating the Sukkah and enjoying many laughs and meals are experiences that I will forever cherish.
Whether because of geography, disability access, family inclination or other reasons, many of us do not have childhood memories of particular holidays. On Sukkot, which symbolizes being open and welcoming to all, I want to implant 2 thoughts. First, for those who are working to create inclusion, it is never too late, or at least never too late to try. For those who have felt excluded (quite possibly some overlap here), you can’t get back the past, but there is always an opportunity to create new, joyful connections in the future.
The joy of Sukkot was not available to me until I got to college, but that does not mean that the experiences and memories I create every year are any less valid than those who have been celebrating Sukkot from a very young age! If anything, it’s especially sweet because I don’t take it for granted. Let us continue to work to welcome everyone into our Sukkot and into our world. Chag Sameach!