The public is invited to join Sunday School children from the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism (CHJ) and celebrate the harvest at a Sukkot party at Westport’s Wakeman Town Farm on Sunday, September 29 from 9:30-11:30, with an optional bring-your-own picnic lunch until noon. Sukkot harkens back to times in ancient Israel when Jews built huts (sukkah) near the edges of their fields during the harvest season and decorated 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 Wednesday, September 18 through the evening of Sunday, September 25, 2013. 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, Westport’s town-owned Wakeman Town Farm will co-sponsor a Sukkot celebration with the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism. Children and their parents will decorate the sukkah with the bounty from the harvest. Michael and Carrie Aitkenhead, Stewards of Wakeman Town Farm, will lead two groups of children on tours of the farm: One group will be for younger kids, and educational presentations about the environment and farming will be available for youth in 4th grade and older. Lessons and hands-on experiences with chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, and composting stations will start off the morning. Wakeman’s gardens will provide a variety of materials to be hung on the sukkah.
Public hours at the farm are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 12:00-6:00 p.m. The farmstand also runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10-6 through October. More information on this and future events, including after school programs and summer camps, can be found at www.WakemanTownFarm.org.
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.