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The Grave Outdoors

To the neurotic urban parent, Sukkot might as well be called Booths of Death

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Most of us, at least here in New York City, lead lives divorced from nature. We are hermetically sealed in our climate-controlled homes and minivans, safe from the terrors of the outside world. But Sukkot is an opportunity to get in touch with the wilds of nature. And for parents weaned on the “hidden dangers” stories screaming from the pages of parenting magazines, a sukkah is nothing but a thatch-topped deathtrap. Behold, the seven top risks lurking in your backyard! (Click around the illustration to find the risks!)


1. Rabid squirrels hiding in s’chach

2. Infant could lick pesticide-covered etrog and develop rash, behavioral abnormalities

3. Renegade lulav could put out eye

4. Adorable bead and paper chains, decorative strung fruit = toddler strangulation hazard

5. Shamed, desperate Ponzi schemer hiding from the Feds

6. Inadequately hung fruit falls on child’s head, causing concussion

7. Cushions of indoor-outdoor picnic furniture offer succor to bedbugs brought in on hapless guest’s pants, whence they are certain to wend their way into child’s bed, feed upon child’s blood

Illustration by Will Horton

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Those of us in New Mexico, who come here to be part of nature, don’t relate to this particular set of neuroses. We just feed the kids to the coyotes and have done with it.

I will assume from this ‘article’ that someone was supposed to write something and therefore did.

TO: beth surdut who wrote comment #1. I love it!! Thank you for the smile today which i truly needed. Your writing is so much better than the original author of the article.

I must say, from Marjorie Ingall I expected better! Oh well, every writer has her off day.

Sounds like someone’s been reading Scaredy Squirrel? :-)
Don’t forget the hazard of simply walking down the street on sukkot… many of us build our sukkot on the roof of our apartment building, and there’s really no way to anchor something to a flat roof… sukkot have been known to blow off the roofdeck in there entirety around these parts.

Gabriel ben A. says:

surely, B.Surdut meant to say: “Have the kids feed on coyote….” otherwise, I mean, what kind of jews are we raising in NM?

One year, while our friend was greeting guests at the front door, her backyard sukkah was catching fire from candles. Thankfully, no children were harmed in this incident, but the firemen did seem incredulous: “You build WHAT? With WHAT on the roof? And then you put candles in it?”

Barbara L. Cohen says:

We had two very large raccoons snarling, roaring and fighting in the elegant tree above our heads 5 miles from downtown Seattle. Scared out of my wits but I had to smile when the host zipped the door of the canvas Sukkot as if that would protect us from what seemed rabid animals.

Coyote isn’t kosher so I’m sure writer #1 meant exactly what she wrote.

Lester Goldstein says:

Is there anything in our tradition that this writer views as wholesome? This negativity has gone on way too long.

A.L. Bell says:

The hazard at my 7-year-old daughter’s Sunday school sukkah: somehow, the grownups got to hang up all of the decorations that were really funny to hang. And the kids didn’t get to choose what decorations to make!!! They had to make construction paper chains. Shudder.

Lester: this article is a parody of those “everyday dangers” articles in parenting magazines. Surely that was obvious?

JSD: There is nothing funny about the threat of Ponzi schemers attacking children. 1,000,000 children fall victim to Ponzi Schemes every day.

Beverly Newhouse says:

Sukkoth is a beautiful holiday. Our grown children
and now our grandchildren love and enjoy this holiday.
(ask Alana). This is a holiday with very few restrictions and a lot of fun.
The closest wild animal that ever came into our sukkah was a duck.

Loved the coyote remark because that’s what we do here in the nation’s breadbasket!

Wow. I had no idea so many people were lacking a sense of humor. This article was an obvious attempt at poking fun of parenting articles with a Jewish twist and was not meant to be taken in any way other than light humor. I found nothing negative in it at all. I have 5 children-everything is satire around here.

Some people just have no sense of humor !

This article is so light hearted that it seems impossible to take anything about it seriously. Of course it’s a parody..that’s the point. lighten up!

Burt Schaffer says:

When I was 13 years old, I was helping the adults with the young children at a Sukkot party. When the Sukkah was empty one bright person dropped a lit candle on floor. The ensuing fire did not spread only because the Sukkah was built against a solid brick wall. Over 55 years latter I can still see the fire, and I have chills just writing about it.

I’m a Sukkah newbie, but would it be wrong to point out how DRAFTY these structures are? It’s nearly October! And cold, pneumonia, and swine flu germs are just flowing freely through the roof along with the starlight. Children should be forced to wear hats, gloves and legwarmers.

And let’s not forget about the rabid raccoons and/or kidnappers who might carry my children off in the night as they sleep in the sukkah. I would supervise, but I sure as heck ain’t sleeping out on my deck in semi-wooded suburbia. There could be deer.

And where there are deer, there are DEER TICKS!

And also flashbacks to being traumatized by the death of Bambi’s mother, which could cause child to experience PTSD and require years of intense psychotherapy and even prevent child from getting into Yale.

Here in New England we are being blessed with unusually warm weather this Sukkot. But that also brings another sukkah danger – the swarms of flu-infested mosquitoes feasting on our delicate flesh!

Helmets, Marjorie. You forgot the helmets.

That poor dad with the male-pattern baldness! He could die of shame!

If you leave food outside, it’s bound to attract mice and give the children Hantavirus. The neighborhood cats will come after the mice, adding toxiplasmosis and allergens. You could die of that. Best not to let your children outside. What kind of parents are you people?

J Carpenter says:

Don’t forget the unexpected guests that show—what was the name of that film, set in Israel, where the jail-break cons show up at the orthodox house during Sukkot?
:?)

For us – rabid raccoons are not too dangerous. However, the “B-52″ Oak Tree a 1000 ft tall in my neighbors yard dropping rock hard acorns like precision boming over Leipzig onto our 4 yr old and rotting schach is the REALLY big deal – competing, if at all, with the chance of electrocution from the utility extension cord / electric timer lighting up all our Xmas, errrr I mean SUKKAH lights while it rains rains rains!

J Carpenter – you mean Ushpizin?

Deborah says:

Why do so many people feel the need to say something nasty? This is not a serious article, so just go with it. The author has feelings, too.

What about catching pneumonia after sleeping outside in frigid temps?

Seriously, a life well-lived involves risks. So bring ‘em on.

(Great piece, BTW.)

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The Grave Outdoors

To the neurotic urban parent, Sukkot might as well be called Booths of Death

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