This old, faded wooden crosspiece is what I see when I look across the wall that divides my home from my neighbors'. It's a bit rundown looking, someone less charitable might even call it an eyesore, but they would be looking no further than its surface.This weatherbeaten piece of wood has been holding up my neighbors' sukkah each fall for all of the thirteen years I've lived here, and probably for several more before that. A few weeks from now, once Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, have passed, my neighbors will lay palm fronds across this frame, with lengths of sheeting stretched to form walls around the outside, creating the sukkah where they will gather their friends and relatives to celebrate the Sukkot holiday. They will decorate the palm frond ceiling and plain white walls with intricate homemade decorations - everything from Chinese lanterns to paper chains to my own children's childish drawings.
The decorations and the holiday spirit they represent will more than overshadow the faded old wood which supports them, but they wouldn't be there to admire without its help. Faded yes, but not without beauty, and not without purpose.