Fifty years ago, my husband, Arnie (a.k.a. Hubby), and I spent countless hours sukkah shopping. It seemed like every few years we needed to enlarge our sukkah. Our first one seated no more than six people, and it was a tight squeeze at that. As our family grew and our circle of friends widened, a sukkah that size was all but useless. As it was a canvas sukkah, we simply ordered more canvas and extra poles. Our sukkah then accommodated 12 people and we were delighted. It didn’t end there, since neither Hubby nor I showed much foresight. A sukkah that seated 12 was fine for a few years, but eventually we realized that we needed a supersized sukkah.
But investing in ever-larger sukkahs, and changing from blue-and-yellow canvas to a more attractive blue-and-white fiberglass, was only part of our sukkah journey. Both types of sukkahs had their pluses and minuses, though both were far easier to deal with than the sukkah of my youth.
When I was growing up, my family lived in the same house as my grandparents, and we used my grandfather’s sukkah, which was made of wood. The panels were attached to each other by old-fashioned metal hook-and-eye locks, but the panels were so heavy that it took three men to set it up: my father, my grandfather, and an uncle. That was the “construction team” that assembled it every year late at night, after Yom Kippur ended. My parents inherited that sukkah after my Zaidy passed on. My uncle was smart enough to take a pass on the offer, but my dad, for some reason, continued to use that sukkah. Apparently, he didn’t consider the advisability of buying a new one—one that was lightweight. My uncle, however, rose to the occasion, and despite the fact that he had invested in a canvas sukkah for his own family, he still came over each year to assist my father. The “construction team” now consisted of only two adult males.
Fast-forward to my adult years. When my father passed on, Hubby and I never even considered using the old wooden one, so we purchased that first small canvas sukkah. There were times when Hubby needed assistance and he called on our son and our brother-in-law to help. This three-man team brought back the holiday memories of my childhood. Now it was my son’s uncle helping out in a scenario similar to those I witnessed when my own uncle helped my father and grandfather. Putting up a sukkah was a family affair.
When my son moved to Israel, the construction crew went from three to two. As the years passed, even with the help of our good-natured brother-in-law, putting up the sukkah became too difficult. It was time for both men to sit back and take a well-deserved rest. That was when we decided to donate our sukkah to our daughter and son-in-law.
We had gone from our years of sukkah shopping to sukkah hopping! We had Sukkot meals with our children and it couldn’t have been easier. The donation meant pure relaxation for hubby, and I knew just how relieved he was. His relief was comparable to the way I felt when we gave our Pesach pots and pans and other assorted cookware to our daughter.
As beautiful and enjoyable as all of our yomim tovim had always been, they were even more so when we handed over the reins to the younger generation. For me, it’s wonderful to “visit” our old sukkah, and it’s even better to see all of our Passover cookware in someone else’s kitchen. The Pesachdike tep, as my father always referred to Passover pots, looked a lot better once I was no longer responsible for the cooking and baking. That’s the way it is.
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-295-4435. Read more of Hannah Berman’s articles on 5TJT.com.