Thursday, September 4, 2008

More than the sum of its parts

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Click to enlarge

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.
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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.
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17 comments:

Leora said...

Love the blue sky in the background. No need for them to worry about raining on their sukkah celebration.

When I looked at your photo before reading the text, I would have thought this had something to do with the French Revolution and the guillotine. Yup, that's totally not what it's for.

Robin said...

Actually, the first rains often come on Sukkot. Sort of like how it always rains on Purim when the children are out running around in their costumes. Just one of those Murphy's Law type things.

tjhirst said...

The simplicity of your photograph and your message indeed reflect that this wood is symbolic of more. I love the imagery and the lesson in Jewish tradition and holidays.

Tiffanie said...

Many things are often times much more significant than they appear. Thanks for that reminder.

And thanks for stopping by my blog. Done the walking and spicy food, but still nothin. Maybe a bumpy ride this evening. :)

Carmi said...

I'll never look at a sukkah in quite the same way again. I love how you wrote about it...this entry and photo are so reflective of my own experiences growing up.

What a lovely choice for this week's theme!

Long may this stand.

This Eclectic Life said...

There is nothing finer when beauty and purpose entwine. Actually, I'm a fan of weatherbeaten wood, so I thought it was beautiful before you told me more. Fine storytelling AND photography, my friend. Yes, I would say your Muse is back. Personally, I never saw that she left...

Debateur said...

What a beautiful tribute to something that could really seem inconsequential to someone else. I'm not Jewish but I've always been intrigued by it.

anymommy said...

I loved this. So simple how you tied the traditions to the stark photograph. Did you notice that the clouds behind the wood crosspiece look like half of a face. Very intriguing.

Dawn on MDI said...

What a beautiful photograph, and a fittingly eloquent explanation. Thank you for the cultural lesson. I have much to learn.

It is interesting how weathered wood looks the same in the dry air of Tel Aviv and the humid salt air of Bar Harbor, Maine. I will remember this picture as I travel around this coastal island and see the weathered wood here.

Peace to you during your coming holidays.

Carol said...

When you enlarge this photo, it's very dramatic... I love the story behind this. It definitely has beauty and purpose , for sure.

A great offering for faded, I enjoyed immensely!

Terri said...

Well done Robin. Well done!

Pinky said...

Beautiful photo and very touching words to go along, Robin!

Your tenderness and respect for your neighbors is simply divine.
I love this so much.

Thank you for sharing!

Robin said...

Thank you.

It's not hard to feel tender towards these neighbors Pinky - they're the same ones who do thinks like leave a homemade dinner ready and waiting on my kitchen counter the night we were returning from a month away in the States and treat my kids like the grandchildren they haven't had yet. I couldn't ask for better neighbors if I tried, and I too am looking forward to sitting in the sukkah to share another year's holiday with them.

sealaura said...

Hola Robin,
Thanks for stopping by my blog and for sharing about the sukkah. I grew up on the westside of LA which has a huge Jewish community and I never had heard about this. Initially I liked all the whiteness in your pic but I was not sure what it was. Thanks for the lesson. :)

Heather said...

Very nice ... I love the story behind it :)

{i}Post said...

i love wood that has character! Not an eyesore at all. This definatly fits the theme well.

me said...

I at times am probably one of those eye sore folks. Thanks for reminding me to “shut my piehole” and look a little deeper. Great story & photo.