Wednesday, October 04, 2006

S'chach, easier said than done!

Do you see that green stuff on the roof of the succa? Yes, that funny little hut is a succa. The green stuff is s'chach.

Traditionally, the s'chach is green, freshly trimmed branches. In places like Israel, where there aren't lots of trees, the rabbis found a solution, like the "s'chach" in the photo. It's not as pretty, but properly stored, it can last for years, easily paying for itself, because in places like in Israel, or for those without trees to prune, the s'chach can be a major expense.

We didn't make our own succa the first year we were (married and) in Israel. We were living in the Old City of Jerusalem, in the "Maon Betar." My husband had never had a succa when he was growing up and neither did I, so we had no problem with schlepping our food to the Bnai Akiva house, recently opened, and only a couple of minutes away.

The next year we were parents and owners of an apartment in the Jerusalem Bayit V'Gan neighborhood. It was all a bit overwhelming, and we needed to buy/make a succa to put on the small merpeset, balcony, off of our bedroom. Luckily Isramom, the same good friend who guest-blogged here this summer, volunteered to help my husband with the shopping and construction.

Having seen a public notice from the Jerusalem Municipality in the Jerusalem Post about s'chach being given away for free, right on our block, I was in charge of that part of the succa.

Sometime during the 3 days between Yom Kippur and Succot, I arrived at the "distribution point," a few minutes early of course, armed with two month old Chandi in her baby carriage. Strange, I was the only female in sight, not counting the baby.

Then the truck arrived, and all those guys pushed ahead grabbing. I recovered quickly, and being young and too dumb to be shy, I reached in and managed to grab "enough" according to my very inexperienced guess. For years I couldn't figure out why those men weren't busy working, like my own husband was. He certainly couldn't take a day off from work just to get some pathetic-looking branches.

I did this for about ten years, until we moved to Shiloh. Actually, I got pretty good at it and used to arm myself with rope, which was then tied to the carriage or stroller, depending on who was our youngest and still at home. Or I just dragged my "catch" to our building when, getting more paranoid by the year, I further developed my s'chach-gathering skills by hoisting the branches up three flights of stairs, after having to go down a half a flight.

Chag Sameach

ps thanks for the reminder Sarah!


ShimonZ said...

may you be blessed with many mitzvahs

muse said...

thank you so much
chag sameach

Isramom said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Chag Sameach!

~ Sarah ~ said...

so you are a very talented schach-getter now :)

sukkot in israel is nice, communal sukkas around the place, even in the Old city

i think i need to take some photos of our sukkah/schach!

Pragmatician said...

We should really learn to appreciate the things we can buy so easily, for you getting s'chach it was a whole adventure for us a trip to the store.
Great lesson:)

Batya said...

thanks to all
Isramom, every Succot and every Simchat Torah I think of you and our adventures!
Sarah, yes, please post photos of your succah; remember, I'm doing hh and then kcc, so the more posts you send me the better!
thanks prag, it's amazing how much people take for granted.

~ Sarah ~ said...

guess i'd better get some cooking done :)

Batya said...

with illustrations!