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A Sukkah Grows on a Berkshires Farm

An unconventional Sukkot story

Adam Chandler
September 28, 2012

The New York Jewish Week has a great story up today about the construction of a sukkah in an unlikely place:

This is Gould Farm, a therapeutic farm community in the Southern Berkshires, where people who are struggling with mental illness come to spend a few months as they grow toward more independent lives, working in teams with staff and volunteers on jobs that are essential to the life of the farm, living together and alongside staff and their families, and sharing meals, conversation, and leisure activities. Dave is a young staff member, great-grandson of a couple who came to the farm in its early years and lived and worked there their entire lives. I am a volunteer. The others are “guests,” the term used for those who come to the farm in search of healing. The term has been used since the days when everyone really was a guest of Will and Agnes Gould, deeply religious Christians who founded the farm community nearly 100 years ago in an attempt to live out what they believed were the interwoven commandments to love God and to love one’s fellow.

The story casts a different light on the significance of a holiday and also the building of a community through a structure, which is a harvest of its own.

Building a sukkah at the farm reminded me that Sukkot is about leaving behind, if only temporarily, the stuff that we think we need and basking in the shelter and protection of caring and presence — a shelter that can be built of fraying plywood and animal corn lovingly gathered in a community built on faith.

Check out the whole story and have a wonderful holiday.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.