Praying in a Kaplanian Mode at Sukkot

by Sue Penn, Director of Innovation


Responsive Reading after Avodah:


We Cannot Merely Pray


We cannot merely pray to God to end war;

For the world was made in such a way

That we must find our own path of peace

Within ourselves and with our neighbor.

We cannot merely pray to God to root out prejudice; For we already have eyes

With which to see the good in all people

If we would only use them rightly.

We cannot merely pray to God to end starvation; For we already have the resources

With which to feed the entire world

If we would only use them wisely.

We cannot merely pray to God to end despair; For we already have the power

To clear away slums and give hope

If we would only use our power justly.

We cannot merely pray to God to end disease; For we already have great minds

With which to search out cures and healings

If we would only use them constructively. Therefore we pray instead

For strength, determination, and will power.

To do instead of merely pray

To become instead of merely to wish;

That our world may be safe,

And that our lives may be blessed.

Responsive Reading after Hoda’ah

For the expanding grandeur of Creation,

Worlds known and unknown, galaxies beyond galaxies, Filling us with awe and challenging our imaginations.

(Jack Riemer, adapted)

Sitting here in this temporary dwelling, built to remind us of traveling through the dessert for 40 years, we cannot help but think of a world struggling to cope with an international pandemic.  




* What lessons can we take from this poem?

  • What does mitzvah of sitting in a Sukkah mean to us in 2021?
  • Why is fulfilling this mitzvah so different this year than in previous years?


  • Cook a multi course meal where each course is a recipe from a different culture or tradition.
  • Hold a virtual or physical gathering in your Sukkah and invite people who grew up in different countries.  Invite each person to share one of the traditions that they celebrate that began in the country they came from.


  • Commit to doing something that will enhance your life this year. This commitment does not need to be shared allowed. Write it down and hold yourself accountable.
  • Remembering that nothing is permanent, make a plan to share an important life lesson you’ve learned, with someone who can benefit from it in the future.



  • Why do think the poem is important?
  • Is anything in life permanent? What is the lesson of the Sukkah?


  • Make a paper chain to decorate the Sukkah that reflects the people around you.
  • Make a basket of food, inspired by Sukkot, to share with an elderly neighbor.


  • How can you improve life for the people in your world?