This week, on the “(Is It) Good for the Jews?” podcast …
Larry Rosen: As you know, Sukkot is approaching. It’s one of the most, eh, fun Jewish holidays.
Eric Goldbrener: Finally! Something to look forward to!
LR: Exactly. So I found a website, begun in 1994 in Australia, called localsukkah.org. You know what it does?
EG: Finds local sukkahs? In case you need to go shake your lulav?
LR: Yes, and have a meal, too. Whatever sukkah-related activities you’ve got, but you can’t find a sukkah, you go to localsukkah.org and bang! Problem solved.
EG: You can have a meal inside the sukkah?
LR: Yes! Sukkahs for people on the go. “I’ve got a half an hour. I need a sukkah …”
EG: Sure, “I’m going to go in, I’m going to break bread, I’m going to wave the lulav …”
LR: I’m gonna get out.
EG: Shehecheyanu. It’s a mitzvah.
LR: Some are in temples, some are in Jewish Community Centers, some are in shopping centers.
EG: A Jewish shopping center? How about that.
LR: Yeah, I’m a little sketchy on the Jewish shopping centers.
EG: I’d like to see that.
LR: 336 listings in 26 countries. So if you are not like us — and don’t know Kimel — you might need to find a sukkah. You playing poker in the sukkah this year?
EG: I play poker in Kimel’s sukkah every year. It’s good to play poker in the sukkah, man.
LR: I got to play once. Only once. Let’s not go into that.
EG: I’ll tell you what. I adore Kimel, and of course I love playing poker in the sukkah, but he’s got the off-the-rack, prefab, plastique sukkah.
LR: Where do you get that?
EG: You order it online? Go to a Judaica store.
EG: You know, I recently had a business meeting in a sukkah, with the co-producer of “The Revolt” [Goldbrener’s in-progress movie about Menachem Begin]. Here in San Francisco. He lives on this sloped lot, so the sukkah’s out there, with this magnificent view of downtown. It was a truly delightful business meeting.
LR: Was it a spiritual experience?
EG: We talked money! It was a business meeting in a sukkah!
LR: They used to build a sukkah at our Jewish day school, when they weren’t all going to do “Sukkot in Yosemite.” But my only memory of it is my child getting into a fight. As we’re building the sukkah. My child throwing down near the sukkah in second grade!
EG: You can’t expect a second-grader to control himself.
LR: You ever build a sukkah?
EG: Oh yeah. When I was a kid, my synagogue, we were there all the time. I was there every day. It comes time to build the sukkah, it was a big deal. I was like 9, 10, 11 years old. And what I liked was that all of these old-timers would come out to help build it. So you’d have these guys, 80 years old, who’d survived the camps and immigrated here. Didn’t speak English, only spoke Yiddish. Normally I only saw them at services, but they came out in force to build the sukkah. I revered these guys because they were so traditional, so Old World. They’d be out there rolling up their sleeves and we’d be building the sukkah together.
LR: Man, that’s a good memory!
EG: It’s a great memory. And you know, I didn’t have a dad. I’d go out there, doing this thing with these old-timers, something our community did. I was rich, man. We had culture.
LR: That is fantastic. I’m not going to give up hope. I might still someday have a real, true Sukkot experience. Of course, we don’t have a yard, which might make it difficult. Sukkot starts Oct. 5 [this year], if you’re keeping track and are planning to build a sukkah, planning to visit Kimel’s sukkah to play some poker, planning to go to Yosemite.
EG: Yeah, give Sukkot some love. It’s one of the best Jewish holidays.
LR: It’s one of the few that we, as a people, truly celebrate.
EG: We don’t cut loose often enough. That’s what Sukkot is for. Celebrating, especially how the world is now, is good for the Jews.