- Flashback 7 years. It was my first day teaching Hebrew to an all boys high school class. I was having trouble getting the students to behave. They kept walking around the room and chatting with each other. It was obvious that they were testing me, and I was failing badly. I didn't know any of their names yet, so I didn't know how to get their attention. In desperation, I just started shouting out random Hebrew names: "Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yoseph, Moshe, Aharon..." A short boy in the back of the classroom rolled his eyes in exasperation, stood up and shouted: "Would all of the Ushpizin please sit down and shut up!"After a moment's shocked silence, we all burst out laughing. The boys saw that I had a sense of humor, and they were much easier on me from then on.
- When I was little, we lived next door to an elderly couple that had moved to New York from Sicily just a few years before. That first year, our Sicilian neighbor watched in confusion as my father built a sukkah in the back yard and furnished it with a table, chairs, light bulb, and decorations. On the first day of the holiday, he stared at us as we shlepped food outside and ate in the sukkah in the wind and rain. Afterward, he approached my father and in broken English said, "If your house is no good, you can come eat by us. Just please don't feed your children outside in the rain!" My father tried to explain about the holiday, but the old man didn't understand. The next year, when he saw us erecting the sukkah again, he gave my mother a few plastic ponchos "to keep the children dry while you live outside". Poor guy. He thought my parents were nuts, and he was trying to help.
Happy holiday, everyone!