Sunday School children from the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism (CHJ) celebrated the harvest at a Sukkot party at Westport’s Wakeman Town Farm on Sunday. Sukkot harkens back to times in ancient Israel when Jews would build huts (sukkah) near the edges of their fields during the harvest season and decorate them with special fruits of the harvest. These dwellings provided shade and allowed workers to spend more time in the fields and harvest their food more quickly.
Sukkot is celebrated from Sunday, September 30 through the evening of Sunday October 7, 2012. The modern day sukkot, or booths, that Jews build during the holiday of Sukkot is reminiscent of Israel’s agricultural history and the Israelite exodus from Egypt. During this holiday Jews build a temporary structure to be used for meals throughout the holiday. The roof should be made of organic materials and open to the sky.
For the first time CHJ’s Sunday School Sukkot celebration was held at Westport’s town-owned Wakeman Farm. As has been the Congregation’s tradition, children and their parents decorated the sukkah with the bounty from the harvest. Historically the celebration was held at a member’s home. But this year Carrie Aitkenhead, Director of Wakeman’s Town Farm, led the children on a tour of the farm. Lessons and hands-on experiences with chickens, rabbits, toads and composting stations started off the morning. Wakeman’s gardens provided a variety of material to be hung on the sukkah.
Visitors to Wakeman’s Farm may view the sukkah through tomorrow, Tuesday October 2 – just ask Directors Carrie or Mike Aitkenhead to guide you. Public hours at the farm are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00-6:00.
Humanistic Judaism emphasizes personal responsibility in fulfilling the Jewish ideals of loving kindness, justice, good deeds, and giving to those in need. These ethical ideals are shared by Jewish tradition and humanist philosophy. Humanistic Jews practice in personally meaningful ways, consistent with a modern understanding of the world. Sukkot offers a yearly opportunity to remember that we are part of the natural world. It helps us appreciate the delicate balance of the seasons. It was a natural fit with Wakeman Town Farm; Its vision is to inspire the community to unite for the mutual benefit of a healthy environment and more sustainable future.
CHJ is a cooperative congregation run exclusively by members, who plan educational programs, social events and holiday observances throughout the year. Because it is a warm and welcoming community, interfaith couples also find it to be the right place for their families. CHJ offers a full-service Sunday School program for children ages nursery school through Bar/Bat Mitzvah. For more information call (203) 226-5451 or visit www.HumanisticJews.org.
Humanistic Judaism is the most recent group recognized as a major branch of Judaism by the United Jewish Communities. The Fairfield County CHJ Congregation was founded in 1967. Humanistic Judaism is now active in many countries throughout the world.