I did get my succah, thanks a thousand times to my friend Israela, who got, for her considerable troubles, a roofbeam *and* a Yom Kippur machzor. She can't go to synagogue tomorrow because she has a small baby, and that would mean either finding a sitter or carrying Shulamit Lina with her. It's too late for the sitter and Shulamit Lina nurses anyway, and Israela can't carry on Yom Kippur. Pushing a stroller equals carrying. But she let us borrow her and her minivan to pick up the eight foot poles needed for our 6x8 succah.
I've been spending the rest of the time reading the ads in the Jewish papers. I find ads fascinating - did my senior history seminar paper on ads during WWII in Life magazine, and never had so much fun.
The ones I'm reading are community specific - goods and services directed to the Orthodox Jewish communities in Flatbush and Boro Park in Brooklyn. So women's clothing ads include "robes" because in these communities, it's normal for woman and girls to wear fancy bathrobes instead of clothes in their own homes, even out of doors. Not as guests, of course, and not to synagogue, but they all need Shabbos robes. Men's ads show dark suits and hats for men and boys.
There are also the begging ads - some rebbe at a yeshiva dies in a horrible accident or after a long illness, leaving his wife with twelve kids to support and marry off. Please donate money. So one man, and I think he deserves amazing credit, came up with a reasonable idea - increase the student's tuition by ten or fifteen dollars and use that money to buy term life insurance for the teachers. And he took out, at considerable expense, a full page ad saying how he convinced local yeshivot to do that. Now, he may well be selling the insurance, but he didn't say so, and it wouldn't matter. It's a good idea, and it conforms to Jewish law about taking care of widows and orphans.
And there are the holiday specific ones. Sukkot has the most accoutrements of any Jewish holiday, and that includes Pesach. For Passover, you can do the whole thing with paper and plastic, except for the kiddush cup. Oh, there's the food and all, and that's important, but in terms of *things*, you can get by. All you really need for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are the special prayerbooks; you don't even need that for Shavuot.
But Sukkot. Oy. If you have the outdoor space, you need the succah itself, and that means also the furniture to go in it so you can eat and maybe sleep. And the decorations. And the light so you can see to eat, and also for pretty - people do buy sukkah decorations that are, unaccountably, on sale in January. :) And you need the Four Species - a palm branch, three willow of the brook branches and two branches of myrtle, plus a citron. And they have to be as good as you can find and afford, and adhere to various conditions. And so, all over Jewish neighborhoods, small businesses that only exist this time of year appear, much like Christmas tree stores and stands appear in December. And the ads reflect that. So, here's a special holder for the four species, and here are new sukkot that are nicer and easier to build or store, or maybe one you can carry in the trunk of your car so you can stop and have lunch. Jewish schools are off during the week of Sukkot, and here are amusement parks reserved just for them, with rides and kosher refreshments and sukkot to eat the refreshments in, and maybe even a booksale for the parents. Restaurants build their own sukkot and advertise them so people know where they can eat if they don't have their own or just want a night out. And through it all are ads for schools and cellphones and wigs and hats and electronic gear and notices about dinners and luncheons and charity auctions, and even special classes.
It's all quite fascinating to me.