It’s ironic that Rabbi Grossman sees Sukkot as an enjoyable holiday. In its essence, the holiday is meant to make us feel uncomfortable and challenge our sense of rootedness and complacency. Yes it might say in Scripture that you should feel a sense of happiness and perhaps socially for some that does happen, but Rabbi Grossman’s devar torah misses the historical essence of the holiday and skirts the bigger issue of “religion fatigue” that plagues Jews at this time of the year.
I would love to say that American Jews don’t observe Sukkot because of x, y, or z theological reason–at least then I could argue why there is a need for the focus on wandering that permeates the Sukkot holiday, with its mandate to dwell in temporary huts. But the truth of the matter is people don’t observe Sukkot beacuse they are tired and feel that they have to go back to their day jobs.
Simply put, most American Jews believe that they can only take off so many days before their “Jewish thing” becomes too big of a professional hindrance (or they have to forget about that one-week summer vacation they spend their whole work year looking forward to).
It’s a shame American Jews ignore Sukkot, because Sukkot has a great deal to teach a people that feels at home in America. Perhaps the most telling sign of just how rooted Jews feel in American life is the fact that they dominate the American real-estate market. We have gone from being a nomadic people whose home was nowhere and everywhere to being a fixture in American life.
Being a wandering people allowed us to develop strong survival skills and be sensitive to others who are less well-off. While we might have found a home in America, many others have not. Homelessness remains a problem in American life. Sukkot could be a helpful reminder to American Jews that there are those today who are still homeless, who do do not have a real roof over their heads.