Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sukkah Ushpeezin Hopping

Every year I visit my parents on Sukkot and go Sukkah Ushpeezin Hopping.

Regular sukkah hopping is a perversion of the Halloween ritual that occurs around the same time of the year. Instead of dressing up in costumes and going door to door asking for candy, kids dress up in yom tov clothing and go from sukkah to sukkah, admiring the decorations, getting a d'var torah ... and asking for candy.

Imitating pagan holiday rituals - not for me.

Ushpeezin is a kabbalistic custom to "welcome" in seven guests over the seven nights of the holiday, starting with Avraham and ending with David (or Joseph, depending on your siddur).

Kabbalistic - not for me.

What I do is dress up and go around from sukkah to sukkah, pretending to be the visiting guest of the ushpeezin.

Dress up, no basis in custom, childish - that's for me.

Each year that I go to visit my parents, I'm there for a different night of sukkot, which means a different night of the ushpeezin, which means a different "guest". So I do something different each year. One year I went dressed as Joseph in Scottish clothing, and I went from house to house drinking Scotch, singing Bonnie Jean, and giving a d'var torah about how sukkot was really a Scottish holiday which we can learn from the movie Brigadoon.

This year, the ushpeezin night on which I went was the night for Aaron to be guest. I went as a detective. My kids followed along with me. The following lines aren't exact, and they were split between me and the kids, but it went something like this:

Burst into a sukkah during dinner; for the most part, I hit the same people every year, but I usually also end up in a few new sukkahs, often of people I don't even know well. Friends of my kids, or they just happen to be unlucky.

"Nobody move!" I yell. "We're on the trail of a dastardly thief named Aaron. Said to go from sukkah to sukkah, swipe the silverware, and then disappear."

If they didn't get me yet, which they often didn't, they will when I continue ...

"Calls himself a priest! Hangs around with his brother Moses, who is wanted himself. What for? For sedition, treason, and ... " Perry Mason style: "Murder!"

"Something of a disguise artist, known to change his clothes up to five times a day."

"A drug user, so much so that he's often known by his criminal nickname: the High Priest."

"Last exploits include conning an entire nation out of their jewelery, trading it for cattle futures (worth their weight in gold), and then the cow mysteriously disappears the next day after a meeting with his brother. Ha! Disappeared. A likely story."

"We're looking for anyone who may know where the cow went ... say," pointing at the food on the table, "is that meat?"

I couldn't think of a good ending, so I usually just slunk out with a "Call us if you hear anything, and hag sameyach".
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