Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Memories of Chol Ha'Moed

Sukkots in Brooklyn
photo by Saskia Scheffer
It's Sukkot.  I always pronounced it Succhos. It's the festival for harvesting.

When the perfect wind started singing perfect songs about Autumn in New York, little huts would pop up all over the lower east side and that was normal. Just like going back to school.

Everybody ate in it, mostly by themselves a lot but sometimes with others.  Every once in a while I'd down to the quartchyard and slip into this dining room with the plastic table clothes and the wooden walls and the see-through roof and decorations that could have said Happy Sukkot, as if it were a birthday party.  But, as the 'not-quite-right' Jews, I never hung around long.  I was not welcomed unless of course Cindy or B. were around.

Still, I really never registered the rejection.  I just recognized home being dotted with these buildings, even outside of restaurants.

It was years later that a relative explained that our family name, Moed, was from this very time.

A great-great-great-great-great-great...  ok a very long ago grandfather was a learned rabbi.   And he studied something called Sukkot Chol HaMoed  (the days of the festival).  One day the Czar told all those who didn't believe in last names (the Jews) they had to have last names so that it would be easier to count us and then tax us.  So he sent his representatives to go into the ghettos and shtetl's to write everything down.

Mostly everyone picked a last name that was the word of their job: butcher, baker, or tailor.  When it was my many-great-grandfather's turn, the Czar-guy asked him, "What do you do?"

"I study Sukkot Chol HaMoed," he answered.

I don't know why we didn't become Sukkot. Or Chol.  Or even Ha.

No. We became Moed.

And I shoulda held my ground in those sukkots I wasn't always welcomed in. 

Related Posts:

Sunday Memories: In the Garden Of Eden There Are Stars Up Above

In Memory Of Cindy: In The Land Of the Quartchyard

Sunday Memories: From That Moment On, The World Was Different

In Honour Of Love That Blooms In Autumn