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    Sticking up for Sukkot

    President Eisenhower is said to have remarked, “Everyone should have a religion, and I don’t care which one”.

    The first half of the sentence sounds fine, but I’m not sure about the second.

    To have a religion is code for having a spiritual outlook on life, recognising forces and energies which are above and beyond the earthly and commonplace, acknowledging that we are answerable to history, destiny and a higher power.

    But to add, “I don’t care which one” is to diminish both the uniqueness of who I am and where I come from.

    Religions are not all the same, and neither are human beings.

    Most religious people are moulded by and into the faith in which they were born; others choose a particular religion because of their own life experiences and spiritual needs.

    As far as Jews are concerned, the festival of Sukkot is a potent symbol of why Judaism is the right religion for us.

    What is the sukkah after all? A reminder that we survived the constant ups and downs of history because, like the sukkah, we were protected from On High.

    A pointer to what life has taught us is important – joy, nature, humility, companionship, counting one’s blessings.

    Experience has also emphasised the lessons of the arba’ah minim (the four species that we wave on Sukkot – citron, willows, myrtle and palm frond), especially the fact that holding them together exemplifies the verse in the Psalms, “How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to be together”.

    I know that American presidents sometimes sit at a Seder; possibly Eisenhower also did. They would also gain from sitting in a sukkah and from experiencing the whole kaleidoscope that makes Judaism special.

    There is a unique quality about Judaism; I’m surprised that everybody isn’t Jewish.

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