[At https://theshalomcenter.org/content/inviting-you-join-sukkot4climatehealing is the basic unfolding of our spiritually rooted strategy for engaging a wide variety of religious and spiritual communities in healing Earth and Humankind from climate disaster. This report follows the Guide to Sukkot Action, Part 1, accessible at https://theshalomcenter.org/action-guide-sukkot4climatehealing-part-1. That report lays out the step-by-step process of organizing a Sukkot action to heal Earth.
[This Guide to an activist celebration of #Sukkot4Climate Healing was written by Faryn Borella. She is a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Ira Silverman Memorial Intern at The Shalom Center. The Guide is intendedd to support groups of Jews and memberss of other religious, spirituaal, and ethical groups who joiin in celebrating Sukkot, the Jewish Harvest Festival tht traditionally welcomes participation by all communities that seek to honor, protect, and justly share Earth's abundance. In our generation, this includes insisisting on public policies to heal Earth and Humanity from the climate crisis. AW, editor]
For a classic book on the history, spiritual meaning, and practices of the flow of the Jewish festivals, see Arthur Waskow’s Seasons of Our Joy. The third edition, published by the Jewish Publication Society, is available from the publisher at https://jps.org/books/seasons-of-our-joy/
General Sukkot Ritual Practices:
Below is a list of rituals traditionally practiced on Sukkot.Any one of these rituals could be used as part of your action. Here, they are summarized. Below, find amended versions of the rituals that tailor them toward the goal of Climate Healing.
- Building and dwelling in the Sukkah
- Ushpizin: A ritual to welcome our “sacred guests” into the sukkah with us. We perform a short ceremony to welcome the ushpizin (Aramaic for “guests”). The full text of the ritual invites them to join us, including prayers that our fulfillment of the mitzvah of sukkah will be worthy of Divine favor. Then, on the first day we say, “I invite to my meal the exalted guests, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. May it please you, Abraham, my exalted guest, that all the other exalted guests dwell with me and with you – Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David.”
In many communities, women ushpizot have been added. One approach to naming them is based upon the seven women prophets named in the Talmud: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther. Other lists connect with the deep understandings of the spiritual aspects of various biblical women, especially the Four Foremothers, Miriam, Hannah, and Esther..
And in some communities, heroic men and women of later eras and other-than-Jewish communities are welcomed as sacred guests: for example, Martin Luther King and Fannie Lou Hamer; John Muir and Rachel Carson.
- On each day, a different one or two of the seven or fourteen is singled out, in order. [Check Ritualwell or Open Siddur for roster of uspizot] For more information, see here.
- Hallel: chanting Psalms 113-118, songs of joy and thanksgiving. The full text can be found here:
- Benching Lulav and Etrog: Waving the lulav and etrog, in the seven directions --- six outward – Left, Right, Front, Back, Up, Down – each time bringing the lulav inward to touch your heart -- the seventh direction,accompanied by blessings.
- Take up the lulav and etrog.
- Say: May my thoughts be holy, in token of the abundance of blessing that is mine from heaven and earth. With these fourspecies, I reach out to the Interbreathing Spirit of all Life, whose Presence is with us in all directions and all ways.
- Wave the species in the seven directions and recite the blessing (below listed first in the masculine, then in the feminine.
- בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יָהּ אֱלֹהֵינוּ רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת לוּלָב
- Barukh Atah Yah, Eloheynu ruakh haolam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvot v'tzivanu al netilat lulav.
- בְּרוּכָה אַתְּ יָהּ אֱלֹהֵינוּ רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְשַׁתְנוּ בְּמַצּוֹתֶיהָ וְצִוַתְנוּ עַל נְטִילַת לוּלָב
- Brukhah At Yah Eloheynu ruakh haolam asher kid'shatnu b'mitzvot v'tzivatnu al n'tilat lulav.
- Blessed are you, Yah, Breath of Life, who makes us holy us with Your commandments [or “connections”] and has enjoined upon us the mitzvah of the lulav.
- בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יָהּ אֱלֹהֵינוּ רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמָן הַזֶּה
- Barukh Atah Yah, Eloheynu ruakh haolam, sheheheyanu v'kiy'manu v'higiyanu lazman hazeh.
- בְּרוּכָה אַתְּ יָהּ אֱלֹהֵינוּ רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָתְנוּ וְקִיְּמָתְנוּ וְהִגִּיעָתְנוּ לַזְּמָן הַזֶּה
- Brukhah At Yah Eloheynu ruah haolam sheheheyatnu v'kiy'matnu v'higiatnu lazman hazeh.
- Blessed are you, Yah, Breath of Life, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this moment.
- Torah: On the first day of Sukkot, the Torah portion Emor (Leviticus 23:33-44) is read, which includes the instructions to dwell in booths. The Haftarah, the special selection from the prophetic books that accompanies Torah readings on Shabbat and holidays, is from Zechariah 14:7-9, 16-21. The Torah is read on every day of the festival, including the Shabbat that falls during Sukkot. On this Shabbat, the Book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) is read.
- Hoshanot: prayers recited each day of Sukkot, asking the divine for salvation. For more information, see here.
- Hoshanah Rabbah: The seventh and final day of the intermediary days of Sukkot, prior to Shemini Atzeret, on which it is said the judgement of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur draws to a close and the world is judged for how much rain it will receive. Seven Hoshanot are recited as we circle the bimah seven times. For more information, see here.
- Simchat Beit Hasho’evah: An ancient ritual of water-pouring, recently revived, in which the act of water pouring is used to induce the rains from the heavens. For more information, see here and here.
Alternative Sukkot Prayers/Practices for Climate Healing:
- Hoshanot: Prayers for Redemption by Rabbi Ezra Weinberg
- Nadie la tiene: Land, Ecology and Nationalism by Aurora Levins Morales
- Another Resource for Lovers & Activists on behalf of Mother Earth by Matthew Fox
- Environmental Justice Program Bank for Sukkot by The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism
- Reb Zalman's Prayers for the Earth on Hoshana Rabbah
- Hoshanot by Rabbi Zalman Schacter Shalomi
- Sukkah of Shalom Song
- Between the Fires: A Kavvanah for Lighting Candles of Commitment by Rabbi Arthur Waskow
- v’haya im shemo’a: a Prayer in a Time of Planetary Danger by Rabbi Arthur Waskow
- For the Sin of Destroying God’s Creation by Rabbi Danny Nevins
- Thanksgiving Prayer for Rainfall in Lands Where It is Needed by Rabbi Isaac Gantwerk Mayer
- Hashkiveinu for Standing Rock by Mónica Gomery, Mackenzie Reynolds, and Jessica Rosenberg
- Saving Creation One Hoshanah at a Time: An alternative Hoshanah Rabbah Ritual by Shani Mink
- Sharing Texts on Climate: "Laudato Si" & Jewish Sages
More information on Climate Catastrophe and Just Response:
- The Green New Deal by New Consensus
- The Think Tank Struggling to Write the Green New Deal by Robinson Meyer
- 4 black women leaders on climate, justice, and the green ‘Promised Land’
- Call to Action: The Red Deal, Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth
- From heat waves to 'eco-apartheid': Climate change in Israel-Palestine
- A Red Deal by Nick Estes
- TALKING POINTS ON THE AOC-MARKEY GREEN NEW DEAL (GND) RESOLUTION from the Indigenous Environmental Network
- The text of the Green New Deal resolution can be downloaded here
- Envisioning a Green New Deal: A Global Comparison
- An Indigenous Critique of The Green New Deal by Malcolm Harris