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September 19, 2013 / Rabbi Laura

If you could have dinner with anyone…

Its a fun party game…

If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

At this time of year, during Sukkot, we call that the mitzvah of ushpizin – welcoming guests into the Sukkah.  Each night, it is a mitzvah to welcome friends and family, those whom we love, into our sukkot as honored guests.

Additionally, we symbolically invite those no longer with us into our sukkot, those we remember, those we miss, those we admire.  From this group of ushpizin, here’s my guest list for the year:

– My grandmother Ruth May Novak is always an invited guest. She passed away a couple of years ago on Erev Sukkot, so I especially remember her at this time.

– Of course my other grandparents are invited too.  Ruth’s husband, my “friend” (it’s a story of another time, Elmer Novak.  And my maternal grandparents Nanny Rose and Papap David.nanny & popop

– I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about John Dewey.  john deweyI’d like to have him join me one evening for some conversation about meaning and experience.  It would be interesting to have Abraham Joshua Heschel join us for that conversation.  I think they’d get along.

– From Israel, I’d like to invite David Ben Gurion to do some yoga with me in my sukkah.  We’d talk about peace and about the land that we love so deeply.david ben gurion

– Of course I’d always like to have Rabbi Tarfon. He’s my favorite Rabbi from the Talmud.  We talk about social justice and the need to do the work, even though we can’t complete it.

– Finally, I’d invite some of my teachers from when I was growing up, especially Mrs Block, Mrs Truitt, and Mrs Stern – they were the ones who really worked hard and succeeded at keeping us engaged.  As a doctoral student in education, it would be fun to sit and talk with them about their visions for education and teaching and learning.

Each year we find ourselves in different places in our lives, thinking about different things.  My guest list clearly reflects where my head is these days.

Who would you invite?

Moadim l’simcha – may this time be one of joy and happiness for us all!

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