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The Joy of Welcoming Guests on Sukkot


Here at Nurture we are fond of saying that “it takes a village to raise a child.” That’s because any adult reading this blog post knows this to be true. Take a moment and think back to your own childhood. Who were some of the “villagers” that helped raise you? Parents? Grandparents? Aunts and uncles? Teachers? Coaches? Mentors? Older siblings? Think about one person from your childhood that helped you become the person you are today. Take a moment to hold that person in your heart and hold them there in a spirit of gratitude. 

Because Nurture’s roots reach deep into Jewish tradition, we often look there for wisdom and inspiration. The upcoming holiday of Sukkot offers such wisdom and inspiration, particularly on the topic of “it takes a village.” How so?

The holiday of Sukkot lasts 8 days. During these 8 days it is customary for Jews to erect a temporary structure called a Sukkah (plural: Sukkot). In order to be “kosher” a Sukkah must meet certain requirements. Among those requirements, the Sukkah must have an entrance so that guests can be welcomed into the Sukkah for a meal or other meaningful activity. 

Welcoming guests, whether to one’s Sukkah or into one’s home, is considered a mitzvah (good deed/ religious obligation) in Jewish tradition. While you might already consider welcoming guests into your home to be a good thing to do, you likely wouldn’t describe the act of welcoming guests as a religious obligation. But Jewish tradition does. 

By elevating the act of welcoming guests to the level of a religious obligation Jewish tradition is telling us a few things. First, it’s telling us that welcoming guests into our homes and into our lives is incredibly important. It’s important for our children to see that our homes are gathering places for friends, family, and community members. It’s important for children to learn how to be gracious hosts and important for them to see us, their parents and other trusted adults, allowing ourselves to be nourished by welcoming guests into our homes. 

By elevating the act of welcoming guests to the level of a religious obligation Jewish tradition is acknowledging that, given the fast pace of our lives, we may not always have the energy or the bandwidth to welcome guests. Sometimes our ancient wisdom traditions, like Judaism, are here to help us refocus and adjust our priorities. By insisting that we welcome guests, Jewish tradition is reminding us that our lives are made immeasurably richer by doing so. While we may not always want to or feel that we have the time or energy, the bottom line is that each and every time we welcome guests we increase the likelihood that our children might one day be able to look back on their own childhood with similar gratitude and appreciation for the village that we created to help support us in the awesome and sacred task of raising them to be happy, healthy, and whole. 

If you would like to celebrate or learn more about Sukkot with Nurture here are a few opportunities. We’d love to welcome you to be part of our village at these upcoming programs.

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