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Sukkot: A Reminder for People of All Faiths to Practice Joy and Gratitude
Nina Amir -- Best Transformation Coach Nina Amir -- Best Transformation Coach
Los Gatos, CA
Friday, September 18, 2009

On the Hebrew calendar date of the 15th of Tishri (October 14), just five days after the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (Day of Repentance) ends, the lesser-known holiday of Sukkot begins. Unlike the solemn and serious holiday that preceded it, Sukkot is a joyous holiday. In fact, this week-long holiday is known as Z'man Simchateinu, the Season of Our Rejoicing or the Season Of Our Joy. And the holiday's joy represents a drastic departure from the solemnity of Yom Kippur.

Yet, anyone, no matter their religious affiliation, can take advantage of the energy and intent of this holiday. Joy and gratitude represent the most powerful prayers and the most powerful ways to connect with God-and the most universal ones as well. They also provide us with the most powerful ways in which to manifest what we want and need in our lives, including a connection with God.

"It seems to me that after so many long months of economic recession, reminding people to practice joy and gratitude is just what we all need," says human potential speaker and author, Nina Amir. "The holiday of Sukkot offers a message to everyone who has been struggling or who is still struggling—with joblessness, inability to pay bills, foreclosure—that reasons to feel joy and to feel gratitude still exists. The holiday reminds us that we should be happy and appreciate another day of life, the fall harvest, our family, God, and even the impermanent nature of life."

Amir relates that a rabbi once taught her that the festival of Sukkot provides the "antidote to Yom Kippur." At the time when Sukkot begins, Jews have just completed 10 days of serious introspection. They have spent many long hours on their own and in synagogue services contemplating their misdeeds from the past year and making attempt to rectify them, if possible. They have spent a whole day repenting, fasting, praying, and feeling sorry for the things they've done wrong. At the conclusion of this most holy day of the year, they arise hopefully inscribed for another year in the proverbial Book of Life.

"And then comes Sukkot," she says, "when they can celebrate being cleansed of those sins and having a new lease on life and another chance to do better, be better. At this time, Jews celebrate life itself and the joy of being alive for another year."

Jews all over the world get up from their prayers and inward focus after Yom Kippur and move into the complete physicality of building and decorating the sukkah, a temporary structure or "booth." Amir explains, "The sukkah symbolizes the fragility of all life, which can be taken down, removed, at any moment. Much like our bodies, it offers temporary shelter, and if we take the time to look through the cracks in the roof we can see through to essence of who we are and to our connection with Source. Jews decorate these sukkot (plural for sukkah) with things that represent that which sustains all of humanity-all the goodness and abundance of the world around us, such as the harvest items."

Then, inside these structures, they feast and pray by getting up and shaking ritual items in a physical celebration of life. They joyously celebrate another year of their own life as well as the life of the earth itself, the essence of physicality, and all that She gives to sustain us.

Historically, Sukkot commemorates the 40-year period during which the Israelites wandered in the desert and lived in temporary structures (sukkot). During the holiday of Sukkot, Jews are commanded to live in sukkot in memory of the period of wandering after the Exodus from Egypt. Sukkot also is the last of three pilgrimage festivals mentioned in the Bible or Torah and is described as the "Feast of Tabernacles." (Some Christian religions celebrate this holiday as well.) Additionally, Sukkot is a harvest festival, sometimes referred to as Chag Ha'Asif, the "Festival of the Ingathering," or harvesting.

"More than all of that, Sukkot represents a time when we have acknowledge that at the moment we are alive-but we know that could change at any moment. Like the flimsy, fragile sukkah we erected, we acknowledge the impermanent nature of our lives," Amir comments. "Yet, we celebrate another year of life. We celebrate our lives. We celebrate life in general. We celebrate a new year. We celebrate all that sustains life-the earth, the harvest, God, our connection to God."

Sukkot, The Season of Our Joy and of Our Rejoicing, offers us seven days in which to practice being joyous-and grateful for all that we have right now in the present moment. "After looking seriously at the past year and how to improve in the coming year, it allows us to move into the future by creating it with our new prayers and thoughts and intentions of gratitude and joy," Amir says, and concludes, "Sukkot offers Jews and non-Jews alike a superb reminder of the importance of practicing happiness and joy. The holiday reminds us to feel joy, to have a spiritual practice of joyousness, and to celebrate and feel grateful for life every moment of every day."

Nina Amir, is a seasoned journalist, author, speaker, and a conscious creation coach. Additionally, she serves as the director of public relations and outreach for www.CyberJudaism.org, writes a column as the San Jose Jewish Examiner.com, and appears once a month as the holiday and spirituality expert on Conversations with Mrs. Claus, a weekly podcast heard in more than 90 countries and downloaded by 110,000 listeners per month. She holds a BA in magazine journalism from Syracuse University's S.I Newhouse School of Public Communication with a concentration in psychology as well as being a certified rebirther and a trained Voice Dialogue facilitator. Through her writing and speaking, Amir offers human potential, personal growth and practical spiritual tools from a Jewish perspective, although her work spans religious lines and is pertinent to people of all faiths and spiritual traditions. In all she does, Amir strives to help people live fully and feel the Divine Presence in their lives every day.

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