I’ve come to the conclusion we need to change the date of Simchat Torah. Our Jewish festivals must be re-envisioned as inspirational community gatherings of joyful spiritual Jewish celebration. Every single festival needs to be a time of great community involvement and meaning.
Thanks to social media and electronic devices you can check in on Foursquare and read the Mishkan T'filah prayer book on a handheld device at the same time. Yet for all the modern inventions, the Torah remains unaffected.
The sukkah is a symbol of fragility. We build the temporary structure each year and know that it is only meant to last for the week-long holiday. It sways in the breeze. The raindrops land inside. The animals nibble at our decor. We know it could come crashing down on us.
Every year, the season of reflection and renewal is culminated by the celebration of Simchat Torah (literally “the rejoicing of the Torah”).
Spread over us the sukkah of Your peace. Blessed are You O Lord, who spreads out a sukkah of peace over us, over the entire people Israel, and over Jerusalem.
I did not have a typical Reform Movement upbringing, and would say that the three years I lived on an island in Alaska are probably most emblematic of that.