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Sukkah of the Soul

What would you take inside?

The Editors
September 27, 2010
(our local sukkah at night by Bill Rogers; some rights reserved.)
(our local sukkah at night by Bill Rogers; some rights reserved.)

To celebrate Sukkot, Tablet Magazine asked several folks what “must-haves” they would take with them into a sukkah. Here are some of the replies.

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, novelist and author of Nextbook Press’s Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity.

“Sukkah of the spirit” suggests unlimited freedom of imagination, so I’ll break a metaphysical boundary and allow myself to imagine myself sitting in a sukkah with my father, who died in 1980, and my sister, who died in 2001. They are singing together. My father, Bezalel Newberger, was a cantor and my sister, Mynda, had inherited his perfect pitch and a miraculous voice. The two of them used to love to harmonize together. If I have to stay within the bounds of the metaphysically possible, I’d settle for a recording of them. Sadly, none exists, since it was on the Sabbath and holidays that they would sing together around the table. I can’t think of an item that could give me more pleasure than a recording of their living voices.

I’d like to bring into my imaginary sukkah—and indeed decorate its walls with—all the outdated Timeses, decrepit alumni monthlies, and pre-millennial Vanity Fairs that currently huddle in secret and not-so-secret corners of our house, cowed by the knowledge that they were insufficiently consumed upon arrival and must now wait, somewhat hopelessly, to be gleaned for scraps when stale. They would make an excellent accompaniment to the equally forsaken squashes, and at the end of the holiday meet the same salutary fate: Disposal. I would like to think of my sukkah not just as a last stop before composting for warty gourds but as a kind of publisher’s clearinghouse: New Yorkers check in, but they don’t check out.

Assaf Gavron, novelist whose most recent book is Almost Dead.

I’ll take the new Jonathan Franzen novel—I waited for this one for so long and actually had a peek at the first five pages, and it looks very promising. This should keep me occupied for the week (I’m Israeli, and a slow reader in English). Two more essential items would be a box of my blue BrushPicks toothpicks, which I never keep far from me, especially if there’s a meal looming, and my baseball cap (currently a black Reebok)—to protect me from both rain and sunshine, which could both too easily penetrate the thatch.

From the editors of Tablet Magazine.