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My Succah, My Protection

Mishpacha Contributors

There’s something special about sitting within the four walls of a succah — its majesty and splendor have the power to transform, to transcend. Four stories about breaking down walls that may be holding you back

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

There’s something special about sitting within the four walls of a succah. It’s not simply about the structure of the walls — its majesty and splendor have the power to transform, to transcend, to break down walls that may be holding you back from achieving your goals and dreams. 

Discover four stories of teens that broke down the walls. 

Story One (below)│Story TwoStory ThreeStory Four

Mural, Mural on the Wall

Naomi Raksin 

I’m minding my own business, stewing in a nice, fat pile of grumps when Rina’s voice interrupts my important and productive activity. 

“Ella?” she yells through the closed door. “Ella, you there?” 

“Oh yes, I’m over there.” 

The door opens a crack and one green eye and half a nose appear in the slit. “Mommy wants help in the kitchen.” 

“And those capable hands you have won’t do the job because…?” 

Rina looks at her hands and then back at me. “Um. I’m busy.” 

I curl my lip away from my teeth, showing off two glinting tracks of vicious braces. 

In case you’re judging me, I don’t usually go around making tiger faces at people, at least not intentionally. It’s only because Succos is almost here and I always get grumpy this season.

Photo: Shutterstock

Succos is Rina’s holiday. See, our family has a very potent art gene that has been passed down to every Kessler descendant. Name any art-related occupation and it’s in the family. We’ve got graphic designers, web designers, interior designers, art teachers, makeup artists, and illustrators. Oh, and a photographer. In my immediate family, Rina has claimed the largest share of the Kessler art gene. Every Succos, Rina paints these outrageously gorgeous murals on the walls of our succah. All our cousins and friends and neighbors come to check them out. 

So hence, Succos grumps. Rina is the queen of Succos and I’m the lowly maidservant. If you think I’m jealous, you’re right. I don’t want to be, but there it is, living inside of me, pecking at my heart. I know I inherited the mutated photography gene and one day I’ll probably be quite good, but now I don’t very much enjoy being the lowly maidservant. 

In the kitchen I frown my way through washing, drying and putting away dishes. I stew in the knowledge that this year is going to be the worst ever, because Bubby and Zeidy are coming from Israel and Zeidy is a famous artist with paintings in art galleries across Israel and all we will do is sit and talk about Rina’s mural. 

For the next little while, I try avoiding Rina but most of all I avoid the succah At All Costs. I don’t go anywhere near those wooden walls. 

“Ella?” Rina tentatively pokes her head into the kitchen while I slam potatoes into the slot of the food processor. 

“What?” I growl.

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