Building a sukkah of peace

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Building a sukkah requires a Jew to think ahead.

With just a few days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, one definitely needs to have the right mindset. Once one decides to erect the structure, however, the materials, ingenuity and time almost miraculously seem to appear.

The result is always worth it, even if the shelter is fragile and imperfect.

A Sukkat Shalom requires the right mindset, too.

The poetic phrase comes from the prayerbook: Ufros aleinu sukkat shlomecha — Spread over us Your shelter of peace.

In that request, Jews ask God to comfort us. The imagery is almost like a mother spreading a soft blanket over a child's shoulders.

But in reality we cannot expect the Divine to do our work for us. We cannot simply bemoan the continual crises pitting Jew against Jew — secular vs. religious, non-Orthodox vs. Orthodox, left-winger vs. right-winger, dove vs. hawk.

We cannot wait for a heavenly answer. We instead need to start by looking past our own narrow viewpoints. Can we?

Can you?

Can you step outside your mindset and really see how the other Jew thinks, how the other Jew feels, how the other Jew hurts?

Can you see yourself taking even a first step by inviting Jews of various beliefs into the sukkah in your own backyard or on your own patio?

If that simple step seems silly or useless, if it seems like you'd have nothing to talk about or everything is their fault, if it seems like you have nothing to learn from them or you're so much more sophisticated, then you must begin to examine your own blocks and flaws.

The lack of Jewish unity isn't a faraway predicament.

It isn't just an Israel problem, or a New York problem, or a Reform problem, or an Orthodox problem.

Like the fragile sukkah, it's in your own backyard.