Monday, September 20, 2010

Exalted Guests....or WWJT: What would Jefferson Think?

Just to wrap up Yom Kippur for those of you who are curious about how I survived: I did and it sucked. I spent about as much time crying as I did not crying. It’s very hard to concentrate on atoning when you’re a functional waterworks. End of conversation.

This week the holiday fest continues with Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles for my gentile readers). This holiday makes its initial appearance in Exodus, then again in Deuteronomy. Anyway, fast forward a few thousand years and you get people building these little booths covered with willow branches and cornstalks in their backyards. Anyway, one of the more interesting traditions is Ushpizin…the Exalted Guests.

Seven exalted guests are invited into the sukkah every night, and each night, a different one leads the way. Traditionally, the guests were the forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David, but over the years, everyone debates just whom they’d invite. This year, I have a more dynamic table in mind.

I might keep Joseph on the list if for no other reason than to let him explain how an immigrant from an unpopular neighbor-state managed to rise to power under an autocrat…and how he views immigration here and now, but I want Jefferson and Adams there, too; Teddy (not Franklin) and his niece (yes, she was Teddy’s niece long before she was Franklin’s wife) Eleanor Roosevelt would certainly get an invite, as would Felix Frankfurter, and Bella Abzug. Yep. I’d want Bella there, hat and all. And I would ask them each, “What did you think was going to happen?”

Who wouldn’t want to hear Joseph and Jefferson argue on agribusiness, architecture and taxes? Jefferson, the guy who believed in reduction of government expenditures, a balanced budget, a decrease in the overall size of the national debt, AND alleviation of the tax burden….v. Joseph, the national master planner and possibly first income tax assessor. What a combo!

What could be more fun than listening to the framers of the Constitution rail on what is now considered free speech? I want to hear Justice Frankfurter, a founder of the ACLU, defend that idea in the face of lunatic fringe media in the midst of that discussion.

And speaking free speech and the lunatic fringe, what would John Adams say about the Tea Party? I’m sure the candidacies of Sarah Palin and Christy O’Donnell would positively shock him! Remember, this is the guy who wrote to his rather politically savvy wife, Abigail, saying, “I must not write a word to you about politics, because you are a woman.” Think of the debate between him and Bella, the woman who said “Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.” And in the middle would be Eleanor, ever the diplomat, making sure everyone listens to each other and directly addresses the issues  at hand.  

And finally, at the foot of the table would be Teddy “Square Deal” Roosevelt. From that perch he would hold forth on the importance of equal opportunity.

The point would not be for all the exalted guests to agree, but for everyone to discuss with passion and patience all matters of importance in between bites of blintz soufflé at a table beneath a roof of willows, corn stalks, and stars.

Chag Sameach  -  חג שמח

Tip O'the Week
Planning to sleep in the sukkah? 
Remember to put a weatherproof mat between you and the ground.


  1. Hoping next YK will be easier, Susan.

    I love this quote, “Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.”

    Chag Sameach,


  2. What would be more interesting is if you had all seven of your guests in an "Ultimate Death Cage Match". Now _THAT_ would be exciting!

    "Jefferson has Adams up against the ropes...OH MY GOD! Adams just did a Pile Driver on Jefferson's testicles! OH THE HUMANITY OF IT ALL!"

  3. This post was absolutely geshmacht.

    May next year's sukkah include palm fronds and freshly picked pomegranates.