On this harvest holiday of Sukkot, Jewish people build booths (sukkot) or temporary dwelling places that have no solid roof or walls. We eat and sleep in our sukkot for one week to remind ourselves of the temporary structures the Israelites constructed as shelter while wandering in the desert and to appreciate what it might be like to have no permanent safe place to call home. On this holiday we keep in mind people who today don’t have a protective roof over their head:
- People who are homeless
- Those who are losing their homes because of the economic crisis
- People who live in substandard housing
- Those who live in environmentally unsafe communities
- Women and children who are abused and unsafe in their own homes
We have all felt vulnerable in our lives. We have all longed at some point for greater safety, shelter and protection.
Today and throughout this week, we are reminded to be grateful for what we have, as well as to reach out to those who do not dwell in peace or safety.
Let us all work together to create protective structures where they don’t exist. We can help those in need find safety, healing and wholeness. We can provide a “shelter of peace” (sukkat shalom), for those who are most vulnerable in our society—a network of support and caring we build for ourselves and one another.
It is traditional to invite guests into the sukkah. We invite friends as well as the stranger and the needy; we invoke and invite the spirit of our ancestors to join us under the branches. All are equal on this holiday, all deserve shelters of peace and community.
Every year, as Shalom Bayit weaves together the Jewish themes of Sukkot and the national reflection of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, communities and congregations throughout the Bay Area tie purple ribbons to their sukkah in honor of battered women and their children.
The Story of the Purple Ribbon
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We tie purple ribbons on our Sukkah to mark this national reflection, to honor survivors of abuse, and to note our commitment to making every home a safe home. The purple ribbon commemorates the life of Lisa Bianco, a battered women’s shelter director in Indiana brutally murdered by her abuser in 1989 while he was on a three-hour furlough from prison. Lisa’s favorite color was purple. May her memory be for a blessing, inspiring us to continue on our path toward ending violence.
We bless the Divine Presence, whose wings shelter us with peace.
Redeemer of Israel who brought us out of Egypt, on this festival of Sukkot,
our thoughts turn to those who dwell in fear and danger in their own homes.
With compassion and an outstretched arm, bring them forth into freedom,
and shelter them in your Sukkah of peace.