My family is looking forward to Sukkot after the serious work of the Days of Awe. As I wrote about in my essay Beyond the Lulav and the Etrog, it is an easy holiday for my interfaith family to embrace. It emphasizes the concept of gratitude, a universal sentiment that is prized by many faiths and people, including those who subscribe to no religious tradition, and it directly connects to my familyâ€™s daily life.
We are avid vegetable gardeners and Sukkot is the perfect opportunity for us to express appreciation for each otherâ€™s work maintaining our garden space â€“ Cameron turns the compost and prepares the beds, and I plant and weed with Sammyâ€™s assistance. During the holiday we give thanks for the produce we produce and the elements of nature that enabled us to grow such a delicious bounty.
This year we are especially thankful because Texas is in the third year of drought with most of the state experiencing severe to extreme conditions. We see the effects of the water shortage in the cracked soil surrounding our tomatoes and okra, and in our dry rain gauge. We also notice the impact of the weather on our neighborhood pond, which has large areas where most of the water has evaporated.
Recently, while walking our dog near the pond Sammy gasped when he noticed the water level. â€śMommy, look at the pond!â€ť he exclaimed. â€śThere is almost no water in some areas. Whatâ€™s going to happen to the ducks, geese and herons if the water gets lower? Someone needs to do something!â€ť
â€śI heard someone the other day ask if water can be pumped in, but that isnâ€™t feasible because of the city water restrictions and the energy it will require. We really need rain,â€ť I said.
Sammy was quiet the rest of the walk and I could tell he was thinking. When we got home he said, â€śIâ€™m really worried about the water. We need to do something. What can we do to make rain?â€ť
â€śShort of cloud seeding which is a method used to increase precipitation, not much. We could pray for rainâ€¦actually, that would be an appropriate thing to do during Sukkot. Have you learned about the Water Drawing Ceremony?â€ť I asked.
â€śAccording to the Talmud, Sukkot is the time of year when God judges the world for rainfall. The Water Drawing Ceremony, conducted in ancient Israel each morning during the holiday, asked for Godâ€™s blessing for an abundant rainy season,â€ť I explained.
â€śWhat was the ceremony like?â€ť
â€śIt was very joyous. Water was brought from an area near Jerusalem in a golden flask to the Templeâ€™s Water Gate. The shofar was sounded and the water was poured over the altar.â€ť
â€śWell, I learned to make rain at camp,â€ť he said demonstrating the hand and foot sounds designed to mimic a rainstorm. â€śBut thatâ€™s not a ceremony and letâ€™s face it, it wonâ€™t fill the pond with water.â€ť He thought for a moment and then said, â€śI know, the next time it is supposed to rain we can put buckets outside in different areas of the yard and collect rain. Then we can bring the buckets over to the pond and pour the water into it helping to fill it up again. It can be our own Water Drawing Ceremony!â€ť
â€śI like that idea,â€ť I said.
â€śMe too,â€ť Sammy replied. â€śI feel better knowing that weâ€™re going to help.â€ť
This year as you celebrate in the sukkah and give thanks for the abundance that fills your plate remember the precious natural resources that helped to make your meal possible. Show some appreciation for them too and please, donâ€™t forget to pray for rain.