“And thou shalt rejoice in thy festival” (Deuteronomy 16:14)
Continuing to follow the suggestions of Guide for the Jewish Homemaker, I had five days after Yom Kippur to get ready for Sukkot. The book suggests that I build a sukkah after “a family planning conference that can be great fun.” As in prior years, I did not prepare ahead of time to coerce my husband into helping me build a hut in our front yard so taking that suggestion was out of the question. I was able to “help decorate the congregational sukkah” in that I lent them my eldest child to make paper chains during religious school and was therefore, exempt from scouting “vegetable markets for squashes, eggplants, peppers, Indian corn, cranberries, and other autumn fruits and vegetables” to decorate a sukkah. Following along in the guide, it was suggested that a Sukkot Tea is a way to invite guests into the sukkah. Well since I was taking our congregational sukkah as my own, I asked my friend/rabbi if I could borrow the sukkah for a tea party where I would serve “Strudel, Assorted Cakes and Cookies, Tea and Coffee” and lucky for me, he said yes!
I used Paperless Post to make invitations that I posted all over Facebook inviting anyone who was around on Thursday, 10/4 at 11am to come to Congregation Beth Emeth for “A Sukkot Tea”
GFTJH not only provides directions/suggestions, there are also recipes. Including the recipe for the suggested strudel. The night before the tea, I made strudel and pumpkin cookies, all the while subjecting my husband to recently discovered Yiddish Love Songs. He asked me to save him some strudel; he asked me to turn down the music as he was trying to get work done. Here is the recipe:
Studel (Stretched Dough)
- 3 cups sifted flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsps. salad oil
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 4 or 5 apples chopped
- 1/2 cup seedless raisins
- 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- Sift together the flour and salt. Combine the eggs, oil and water, and work them into the flour, mixing until the dough leaves the side of the bowl. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it is smooth, Place a warm bowl over it, and let stand for about 20 minutes.
- Cover a large working surface with a clean tablecloth. (A kitchen table about 24 to 30 inches square is about right; you should be able to walk around the table.) Sprinkle the cloth with flour and roll out the dough as thin as you can; be careful not to tear it.
- Now begin the stretching process. Flour the knuckles of your hands, form your hands into fists and place them under the pastry. Carefully and gently pull the dough toward you with the back of your hands. Change your position around the table from time to time so that the dough is stretched in all directions without strain. Continue stretching until the dough is transparent and as thin as tissue paper. Cut away any thick edges. Brush with oil or melted shortening.
- Place filling down the length of one side about 2 inches in from the edge. Turn this 2-inch flap over the filling and lift the cloth to continue to roll the dough over and over from that edge. Cut rolled strudel down the middle into two loaves. Place the loaves on a heavily greased baking pan, brush the tops with oil, and bake them in a 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until they are crisp and brown. Cut into slices.
On Thursday morning, I put hot water into a thermos, stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for a Box o’ Joe and headed off to greet any guests who might come to eat strudel. I brought with me “cards decorated with Sukkot designs and symbols” including my own version of “miniature etrog made of yellow jelly bean and lulav made of bits of green plants”.
I had hoped to be able to set-up in the beautiful outside sukkah but due to weather, I got to make use of the sukkah decorated by my child.
In the end, it was just my best friend @shoshuga, Singing PhD Rebettizin, BDT and the Queen Mum in attendance but coffee was drunk, strudel was consumed and etrog/lulav were shook with care not to “handle the etrog carelessly”. It was a lot of fun and I know this is an event I want to repeat again next year, maybe even in my own sukkah as I am lucky enough not to “live in an apartment house” and have no need to “ask the landlord’s permission to build a sukkah on the roof.”
As a side-note, Simhat (Simchat) Torah is only mentioned briefly in GFTJH and so there was not much to do in that respect. It was suggested that I should “see that the children take part in the Simhat Torah procession” and “check the time schedule for hakafot so that the youngsters’ mealtime and bedtime can be arranged accordingly”. My girls were more than happy to comply with the first suggestion. I failed in the second suggestion as I kept the girls up way too late on a school night dancing to the The Sally Mitlas Orchestra and getting caramel apples that I paid the price by having to drive into school the next more. Who cares though, it was a good chag and I can’t wait for next year!