Ushpizot: Our Honored Female Guests

Succot Chagall

Sukkot celebrates the gathering of the harvest. We eat in temporary dwellings looking above to the stars. As part of the ritual tradition, we welcome the ushpizin, seven male guests, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David into the Sukkah.

Women have expanded the tradition to ushpizot,asking instead seven historical Jewish women:
Sarah (Genesis 16:21) with her laughter as her response to God that he will give her a son in her old age; Miriam (Exodus 2:1-9; 15:20-21) the source of water for Israelites wandering in the desert; Deborah (Judges 4-5)is the Bible’s only female military hero and judge; Hannah (I Samuel 25) the model of how people pray while in direct communication with The Divine; Abigail (I Samuel 25:20) known for her hospitality to King David; Huldah (II Kings 22:10-20) the prophet during the time of King Josiah (mid 7th BCE); and Esther (Book of Esther) who revealed her Jewish identity to save fellow Jews from a death decree.

In these trying times, here are the women I want to bring into my Sukkah: Naomi Klein, Rachael Maddow, Beth Greer, Jane Mayer, Jane Goodall, Amy Goodman, and Hillary Clinton to name just seven!

A simple prayer for this holiday of Sukkot:
May the majesty of Your Pure Radiance dwell in our midst.
May our lives be as varied and rich as the stars.
May we inhabit makeshift homes to accept the temporary nature of life.
May we feed all who are hungry and give water to all who are thirsty.
May we listen to voices of responsibility and reason.
May we uphold the virtues that will keep us healthy and give us long life.
May You spread over us the sukkah of peace.

Chag Sukkot Sameach



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