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  • Writer's picturecharlie kesem

The Home of Belonging (Sukkot)

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

“A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted… A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time of wailing and a time of dancing.״ – Ecclesiastes


Once, the ancestors were wandering for a pretty long time in the desert, creating temporary dwellings under the stars, apparently in the form of little huts (or Sukkot).

Parked comfortably between the Autumn Equinox and Samhain (Halloween/All Saints/All Souls/Day of the Dead), I see Sukkot on the one hand as an intertwinement of celebrating the harvest season, calling in the rain and preparing for the Winter, and on the other hand, a time to gather, share stories and remember our loved ones and ancestors. 

There is something beautiful about the transient nature of this holiday, the impermanent, ephemeral quality of coming and going, just like the rain.

This is however written from my highly privileged perspective, of being one fortunate enough to have an actual home, a roof over my head, and family who will always have my back (even from afar), so it’s somewhat easier to romanticise this idea.  I cannot fathom the reality of being without a home, not out of choice, and I highlight this because otherwise it is akin to performing the Passover Seder, without acknowledging modern day slavery and oppression.

On an inner level, I take the meaning of home a little deeper into what I feel is lying underneath – belonging.  To where do I belong in the world? Which land? Which specific place? Which community? In which purpose do I find my belonging?

Having more or less just moved to a new area in Israel, I find myself dancing between circles and communities – feeling somewhat on the edges, weaving my way in and out of different flavours and experiences.  Having decidedly retired my personal story of “I have no family here, the holidays are hard for me”, I have so far been experiencing the holidays with joy, surprise, spontaneity, trying new things, letting go, and not being with people just for the sake of being with people. 

From spending the eve of Jewish New Year with a wonderful family that I never met before (best family ever!!!) to spending time with my beloved sister-from-another-mister and her gorgeous family, to watching Netflix and enjoying alone time (I’m obsessed with Black Mirror), I’m carving out my own sense of enjoyment and belonging, woven into the cyclical nature of Nature and the year. 


Last night, I had the sweet pleasure of celebrating at my neighbours’ house in an intimate circle of good good souls, accompanied by music, fire, cacao, wine, dates, pomegranates, cuddles, rest and prayer. 

In the small hours of the night, I wrapped myself in my orange Ukrainian shawl, to focus in on saying some personal and collective prayers, offering some tobacco to the Fire. (Truth be told, I feel somewhat self-conscious about freestyle prayer in a public setting, so the shawl-wrapping thing helps, creating a little protective canopy!)

To my great surprise, I felt a tangible sense of centredness, almost as soon as I gave the tobacco to the Fire.  A profound “aha” moment came to me. Something so obvious and yet so clear, I felt its’ meaning resonate throughout all of my cells, and it is this:   

Belonging is a state of mind.

What matters is me showing up fully in my authentic self and true presence.  Then, I belong anywhere and everywhere. 



Going back to the connection between belonging and Sukkot, I also wonder about the sense of home or belonging we feel in these bodies which we inhabit.  Our very own portable home for the soul! 

Perhaps, what we share on the hive-mind of social media is not an accurate reflection of the “homeliness” we may or may not feel on the inside.  It’s happened to me many times that people say to me “ah, it looks like you’re doing so well!”, as a response to what they have seen on Facebook.  It’s happened to me that I have assumed the same of others, based on their pictures, posts and likes.

So I want to take this moment to say – let’s not assume, let’s ask – because sometimes I feel good, sometimes I feel terrible. Just like you!  We are all having the same experience essentially…

Wandering and wondering how to create meaning from within the expanse of the desert, searching for answers in the starlit sky or the drops of rain, yearning for connection in the flames of the fire or resting in the comfy seat of the earth.

Thank you for what I got, knowing that it can fade away in the blink of the eye.

Blessings to us in the Transience of Being and the Home of Belonging.

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