During Sukkot, we remember the time when our people wandered the Sinai Desert as they journeyed to Israel. In Vayikra or Leviticus (23:42-43) — the Torah commands: that “For a seven-day period you shall live in booths in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I am the Lord your G-d.” According to the Torah, the most integral part of the Sukkah — or the ‘booths’ mentioned in Vayikra — is the roofing. The Sukkah needs to be covered in sechach; this means organic material such as wood, bark, bamboo, or leaves. However, we must be able to see the stars through the sechach in order to marvel at G-d’s creation. Thus meaning, the Sukkah must be open.
We believe BBYO, as an organization, metaphorically reflects the architecture that makes up the Sukkah. Just as the Sukkah remains open, so does our Movement. We are constantly looking to the stars for new ideas and inspiration. When Covid-19 shut down in-person programming, BBYO On Demand was born. Although we were locked at home, we still looked outwards — beyond our sechach — and marveled at all that the BBYO community had to offer.
Sukkot is also a time for giving back to our communities and spending time with others. We welcome others into our Sukkahs with open arms and hot meals, no matter if they’re family, friends, or a person in need. Together, our community rejoices as we perform the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim, or hospitality to guests. Similar to BBYO, every program is an opportunity to welcome new members and old friends alike into our loving chapters, councils, regions, countries, and communities.
In addition to all the other requirements, the Sukkah must also be resilient against the environment. Although the walls may be made out of anything, the Sukkah must be strong enough to withstand harsh weather conditions. In the past year and a half, we have all endured more than a few gusts of wind, yet BBYO has provided the support to remain upright. With the political turmoil of last year’s Presidential elections, BBYO was there. We launched the ‘Voice Your Vote Task Force’ and its efforts were felt not only across the organization, but across the country. With anti-Semitism on the rise across the world, ‘Rise UP’ was established as a movement priority, and the ‘Rise UP’ Task Force was launched to combat this form of hate. Finally, when it became evident that BBYO had to further inclusivity efforts, we passed the ‘Strengthening BBYO’s Practice of Gender Inclusivity’ legislation at August Execs 2021.
Although BBYO resembles the Sukkah in many ways, it differs in one key area: Sukkot lasts for only 7 days, whereas BBYO is year-round. Just as it's a mitzvah to build and use a Sukkah during Sukkot, we must also recognize all the good that our BBYO community does for each other and the world, year-round. Afterward, we’d encourage you to enter a real Sukkah! Enjoy this chag! Rejoice with your family and celebrate with your community.
Dani and Danny, 33rd International Sh’lichim
Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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