You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I the Lord your God.
Sukkot is known as “zman simchateinu,” a time of our joy. Historically, we are celebrating the fall harvest and the biblical Israelites’ journey through the desert wilderness. We intentionally build fragile structures; for eight days we eat and even sleep within them, knowing it could be beautiful and sunny one day, cold and windy another.
For too many families, the novelty of the sukkah’s fragility is a daily reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an acute housing crisis, on top of long-standing affordable housing shortages in our region. Skyrocketing unemployment has led to widespread rent delinquencies and concerns about an impending avalanche of evictions. Moreover, there are people in our region who have spent the bulk of the last six months quarantining and caring for ill loved ones in homes that are desperate need of repair, breathing in poorly ventilated air and toxic mold.
Let us make Sukkot 5781 a time to commit to helping others live in homes that are healthy, affordable, and safe. There are a range of ways to take action: help rebuild and revitalize homes, ensuring safe and healthy living spaces, with Yachad DC; contact Virginia state legislators to support moratoriums on evictions and additional funding for emergency rent and mortgage relief; if you are a lawyer, volunteer with Maryland Legal Aid to provide pro bono assistance to a family facing eviction; donate to one of the dozens of non-profits in our region providing assistance to homeless families and individuals.
May we all appreciate the security of our own dwellings and savor the joy of Sukkot just a bit more this year. Chag sameach from the entire staff of the JCRC!