Over the course of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, we engage in deep introspection, and strive to achieve personal transformation for the coming year.

Sukkot, the holiday that follows Yom Kippur, reminds us that in order for us to achieve personal growth, we must also examine and renew the space that surrounds us. Over the course of this 8-day holiday, we “move” from our stable, familiar homes to new surroundings: the temporary dwelling of possibility, the Sukkah.

Being in a new space creates the potential not only for continued personal transformation, but also for new communal, interpersonal interactions. The Sukkah is a place to play with the vision of our new selves, and imagine what that self might bring to the communal realm; it is, moreover, a place that begins to define new possibilities for the community at large.

This year, in the spirit of Sukkot, we invite you to incorporate the following ideas into your Sukkah. Each is inspired by one of our current UpStarters – innovative Jewish organizations in the Bay Area; we hope that each inspires you to re-examine yourselves and your communities, and dwell in the space of possibility and renewal.

UpStart‘s List of Sukkah Decorations for 5770:

  • A Fair Trade Item: Decorate your Sukkah with a Fair Trade Judaica item, or feast with friends on a delectable Fair Trade food; check out the list on their site.
  • A Piece of Jewish Learning: Incorporate engaging, intellectually stimulating, and inspiring Jewish learning in your Sukkah. UpStarter Bay Area Learning Initiative (BALI) is re-inspiring Jews of all backgrounds and perspectives in the Bay Area to get excited about Jewish learning. Look for BALI’s invigorating learning circles coming to a location near you. Until then, check out this great list of Jewish texts related to Social Justice.
  • A Mitzvah: UpStarter Mitzvah on the Rocks has been steadily building a community of Jewish young adults who gather each month for drinks, each other’s company, and – a mitzvah – a cause which they support. This year, choose one organization, cause, or project to discuss and share in your Sukkah, and to donate your time or resources to in the coming year.
  • A Cartoon of the Parasha Genesis” – Really. Make some popcorn, and screen UpStarter G-dcast’s first-ever animated Parasha. This year, they will complete the entire Hebrew Bible. Talk about something new and inspiring that you hope to do in the new year.
  • A Piece of the Great Outdoors: UpStarter Wilderness Torah inspires Jews across the Bay Area to re-incorporate Jewish practice with its earth-based roots. This Sukkot, they will be bringing over 100 people to celebrate together at an organic farm. Incorporate a part of the natural world into your Sukkah, and commit yourself to an environmental cause for the year.

Maya Bernstein is Director of Education and Leadership Initiatives at UpStart Bay Area, a San Francisco-based nonprofit whose mission is to advance early stage non-profits that offer innovative Jewish engagement opportunities. Maya is an occasional contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.

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