Our holiday of Sukkot – part harvest festival, part historical reenactment – is the holiday of insecure dreams. We are commanded to build a shelter for ourselves, but only the most flimsy, temporary shelter, to remind us of our own fragility, the transitory nature of life, and what it was like to be refugees from Egypt, with only the good will of a great power to sustain us. But then we are commanded to dwell in it. We are to welcome guests: our neighbors, the poor, and even our wandering ancestors, to be with us. And then, ideally, we sleep in it, the star visible above us. And we sleep with the promise God made us in the desert, the promise that a more permanent home awaits us in the future, a promised land. No longer landless, stateless, we sleep knowing we are headed toward a better future. We sleep with a dream in mind before we even lay our head upon our pillow.
And knowing that, we are commanded to rejoice. Sukkot is meant to be our happiest holiday – not joyous like Passover, or riotous, like Purim, but a holiday of contentment, knowing our harvest is secure with us for the coming winter.
Yet the insecurity hovers, always: will the Sukkah hold up? Will rain ruin my food? Will no rain come to secure the coming year? Will I make it to the promised land? It helps to be reminded. We American are blessed. We enjoy unparalleled security. We live in towns and cities without defensive walls. We have solid, durable homes and apartments, we have a social and economic safety net, we are secure in the knowledge that this place is our place. But we also know there are others who live mostly with insecurity, rather than security. I’m thinking of dreamers today very much like the dreamers who were our ancestors winding through the wilderness, the young immigrants who came here as children, who are Americans, like us, in every way except that the that that makes us so secure – the knowledge that they have a permanent home here. But they are rightly dubbed “Dreamers,’ because their dream today was our dream 3000 years ago.
I think we still reenact this peculiar story, our master story, even in a age when we are fully secure, when the Jewish homeland is securely restored, in order for us to cultivate empathy for those who’s lives are still in transit, who still find their hopes for the future could get rained out. So I continue my High Holiday message even now with a call to persistence – there is only five more months until DACA protections expire. Please join me in fulfilling the promise, fulfilling the dream of this holiday, by insisting our national leadership end the insecurity of Dreamers. Help us bring them home. The sukkah reminds us that until all are secure, no one is secure. Call your representative. I think you will sleep better, if you do. Chag sameiach – a happy holiday!