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October 10, 2003 - Image 35

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-10-10

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Our Michigan Family


Special Commentary

he elation we feel each
time we have visitors from
our Michigan family is
twofold — first on the
reassurance that we are not alone and
secondly in the opportunity it offers
to do things that fill our hearts with
joy. The missions and exchanges facil-
itate the growth of personal friend-
ships that time and again have proven
to be a great source of mutual
The tremendous power of the peo-
ple-to-people connection became
fully evident during the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit's
2001 Solidarity Mission in the
Central Galilee that took place on 9-
11 as wel ason the planned march
and at the festive dinner and dancing.
Cheered by the "beautiful day" and


Edna Shapira is a member of the steer-

ing committee for Partnership 2000,
which brings the Central Galilee and
Michigan Jewry together in economic,
educational and cultural relationships.
She lives in the Jezreel Valley and works
in events designing.

fine weather, we drove, filled with
anticipation, to meet the American
group when suddenly, like thunder-
clap on a clear day, we heard the ter-
rible news, horrible beyond human
comprehension; our ears could hear,
but our mind refused to comprehend.
We felt lost, not knowing how to
behave with our guests who had only
just arrived.
As we did not know whether the
group knew or not, we waited for
instructions and were told that for
the moment, everything would pro-
ceed as planned. As the two buses
arrived with some 100 persons, some
of whom we had already met during
previous encounters; the excitement
in renewing contacts was great. We
started to march with mixed feelings
of happiness and sadness — and then
the rumors began to trickle in; one
tower had collapsed and was followed
by the collapse of the second tower.
Slowly we began to absorb the mag-
nitude of the disaster, far greater than
anything we could have imagined.
Enclosed within a bubble, the
world was crashing around. We sat with
the solidarity mission group through the
festive dinner, receiving their continued
support while we remained lost for
words, trying to be there for them.

I sat at a table with people who
were worried for the safety of their
friends, but tried with all their might
not to let us feel their apprehension
— and we, my husband and I, tried
not to show how worried we were for
our son who was on the students
exchange and was supposed to be in
New York that day before flying on
to Detroit.
This is one day in the Michigan
community's continuous support of
Israel in general and the Central
Galilee and its people in particular.
At all times and especially since the
beginning of the latest Palestinian
intifada (uprising), the realization
that we have trusted friends who sup-
port, understand and share our con-
cern and who are constantly in touch
by e-mail, phone calls and visits has
been a great source of strength.
The personal relationships created
through the continual flow of mutual
visits and solidarity missions, even
during the harshest and most trying
situations, are an added layer to the
ever-tightening connection between
our two communities.
May we fulfill within ourselves the
verse "and they shall beat their swords
into plowshares, and their spears into
pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift

up sword against nation, neither shall
they learn war any more."
Best wishes for a happy and blessed
new year to all wihtin the Bet Israel,
the House of Israel. ❑

In comes my daughter,
Bearing hot food and water;
Worry on her face like a pall.
She just stands there shaking
And, her voice nearly braking,
Says "Tattenyu, the sukkah's going to

attacked on the streets of European cities
— and here in the United States, our
numbers are falling to the internal adver-
saries of intermarriage and assimilation.
The poet, however, well captured a
Sukkot truth. With temperatures drop-
ping and winter's gloom not a great dis-
tance away, our sukkah-dwelling is
indeed a quiet but powerful statement:
We are secure because our ultimate pro-
tection, as a people if not necessarily as
individuals, is assured.
And our security is sourced in nothing
so flimsy as a fortified edifice; it is pro-
tection provided us by God Himself, in
the merit of our forefathers, and of our
own emulation of their dedication to the
And so, no matter how loudly the
winds may howl, no matter how vulner-
able our physical fortresses may be, we
give harbor to neither despair nor inse-
curity. Instead, we redouble our recogni-
tion that, in the end, God is in charge,
that all is in His hands.
And that, as it has for millennia, the
sukkah continues to stand.

Marta Rosenthal of Franklin held her
daughter Rachel as they watched footage
of the 9-11 attacks in America on tele-
vision in Nazareth Illit in 2001.

The Sukkah Still Stands

New York


here is sim-
ply no
the plain-
tive, moving melody
to which Yiddish
writer Avraham
Reisen's poem was set.
As a song, it is
familiar to many of us
who know it thanks to
immigrant parents or
grandparents. And,
remarkably, the strains of "A Sukkeleh,"
no matter how often we may have heard
them, still tend to choke us up.
Based on Reisen's In Sukkeh, the song,
whose popular title means 'A Little
Sukkah," really concerns two sukkot,
one literal, the other metaphorical; and
the poem, though it was written at the

Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public

affairs for Agudath Israel of America.
His e-mail address is

beginning of the last century, is still ten-
der, profound and timely.
Thinking about the song, as I — and
surely others — invariably do every year
this season, it occurred to me to try to
render it into English for readers unfa-
miliar with either the song or the lan-
guage in which it was written. I'm not a
professional translator, and my render-
ing, below, is not perfectly literal. But it's
close, and is faithful to the rhyme
scheme and meter of the original:

A sukkaleh, quite small,
Wooden planks for each wall;
Lovingly I stood them upright.
I laid thatch as a ceiling
And now, filled with deep feeling,
I sit in my sukkaleh at night.

A chill wind attacks,
Blowing through the cracks;
The candles, they flicker and yearn.
It's so strange a thing
That as the Kiddush I sing,
The flames, calmed, now quietly

Dear daughter, don't fret;
It hasn't fallen yet.
The sukkah will be fine, under
There have been many such fears,
For nigh 2,000 years;
Yet the sukkaleh continues to stand.

As we approach the holiday of Sukkot
and celebrate the divine protection our
ancestors were afforded during their 40
years' wandering in the Sinai desert, we
are supposed — indeed, commanded —
to be happy. We refer to Sukkot, in our
Amidah prayer, as "the time of our joy"
Yet, at least seen superficially, there is
little Jewish joy to be had these days.
Jews are brazenly and cruelly murdered
in our ancestral homeland, hated and





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