Celebrating SUKKOT 5780

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By: Ellen Geller Kamaras

Hol Hamoed Sukkot begins on Tuesday night, October 15th and runs through Friday, October 18th. Sunday, October 20th is Hoshana Rabbah, another day we can enjoy outings with our family before we get ready for Shemini Atzeret and Simhat Torah.

What better way to honor our closeness with Hashem and express our joy than by spending it with our families? The days of Hol Hamoed also include the mitzvah to be joyous and celebrate as stated in the Torah (Devarim 16:14-15), “And you shall rejoice in your festival ... and you shall only be happy.”

How Will You Fulfill the Mitzvah

of Being Joyous with Your Family on Hol Hamoed?

Let’s focus our planning on maximizing our joy and our connection with family on those days. You will have two full days on October 16th and 17th and most of the day on Friday, October 18th and Sunday, October 20th on Hashana Rabbah. Please don’t forget that family joy and bonding include teamwork and asking your children to help you shop, cook, and prepare for erev Shabbat and Sunday.


Factors to consider in Hol Hamoed planning include: Make sure your proposed venue is open on Hol Hamoed. Do you need to buy tickets in advance or make a reservation? Think about where will you eat (are there kosher restaurants with a Sukkah available for eating, and/or kosher food for sale?). Set up contingency plans if it rains. Check to see if there nearby indoor spots your kids
will enjoy.

Engaging and Empowering Your Children

Ask you children to do their due diligence and propose suggestions for Hol Hamoed outings. They most likely have their fingers on the pulse relative to fun happenings.

The next step is to hold a family meeting and agree on which trips make sense, taking into account distance, cost, and other relevant factors. You may want to consider activities that you can’t do in the summer or won’t be able to do in the winter.

Plan Outdoor Activities

Hol Hamoed Sukkot is an opportune time to play tourist and to do some educational and cultural things too! Both Brooklyn and New Jersey residents can easily get to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Find out about Lady Liberty and the millions of immigrants who saw her torch as a beacon of welcome in the New York Harbor. Learn about the immigrants who set foot on U.S. land for the first time on Ellis Island, the most active immigration station.

There are lots of reasonably priced or free activities practically in our own backyards. No need to travel far or follow the crowds. Remember, the key words are joyful and family.

Take advantage of the mild fall weather and choose outdoor outings that get the family into nature and fresh air. After Simhat Torah, you and your kids will be spending lots of time indoors at school and at work.

Fun outdoor outings include taking in the fall foliage, apple picking, family hikes, parks, rollerblading, and boat rides. Take a scenic road trip and combine a family hike with viewing the vibrant and brilliant colors of the autumn leaves. This trip jives with Sukkot, which is very much about nature, the outdoors, giving up material comforts, and enjoying the harvest.

After picking apples and visiting farms, your kids can help you bake apple-based desserts and prepare fruit and vegetable salads for when you’re hosting guests.

Clip & Save

Why not kick off your planning with fun things that you may have a coupon for?

If you live on the Jersey Shore, a wonderful resource for things to do in New Jersey is couponconnectionnj.com.

Kudos to Stacey Gindi, the talented graphic designer who connected me with Joy Betesh, publisher of Coupon Connection and the Kosher Pocket Guide. Joy provides coupons, deals, things to do, and FREE EVENTS for the Jersey Shore area “connecting local savings to you!” Download valuable coupons at www.couponconnectionnj.com.

Joy generously prepared the following list with a description and coupons of these fun, economical, and convenient things to do! There are new venues such as Oasis VRX in Bell Works and a wide range of choices for kids of all ages including climbing (a unique venue called Climb Zone, use the two for one coupon provided), art studios, apple picking, petting zoos, parks, escape rooms, and so much more.

Adventures in New Jersey

ClimbZone– Unique Family Entertainment Center, offering 68 themed climbing walls. Climb up the Empire State Building, Jack’s beanstalk, Mt. Rushmore & much more. Buy one get one FREE coupon available online. 5369 Rt. 9, Howell, NJ 07731, 732-813-8300.

Monster Mini Golf– Glow in the dark 18-hole mini golf & arcade. Buy one get one FREE coupon available online. 749 Hope Rd, Eatontown, NJ 07724, 732-544-2200.

Solve It Sherlock Escape Room– Great Family Fun! Get $5 off per ticket with coupon from the Coupon Connection. 708 Highway 35, Neptune,

NJ 07753, 732-455-1616.

H'Art & Soul Art Studios
Paint your own pottery, mosaics, jewelry making, and more. 219 Locust Ave, West Long Branch, NJ 07764.

Oasis VRX– State of the Art Virtual Reality Center. Over 20 VR stations – loads of fun! Located in Bell Works in
Holmdel, NJ, www.oasisvrx.com.

Eastmont Orchards Pick Your Own Farms– Apples, pumpkins, and seasonal items. 181 County Road 537 East,

732 542 5404.

Atlantic Farms– Hay rides, petting farm, pumpkin and gourd picking, and corn maze. 1506 Atlantic Ave., Wall, NJ 08736, 732-528-8680.

Monmouth County Parks– Over 40 beautiful parks all over Monmouth County with family friendly and nature activities.

Brooklyn Outing Ideas

Take advantage of the beautiful Prospect Park area with the scenic park itself (585 acres), the zoo (https://prospectparkzoo.com/),Brooklyn Botanical Garden (https://www.bbg.org/visit) and the Brooklyn Museum (https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/).

The park (https://www.prospectpark.org/) includes the carousel, the Audubon Center (boating, nature exploration), and LeFrak Center at Lakeside, which was recently renovated (features boating, skating, and biking).

Other Brooklyn gems include the New York Aquarium, Coney Island (http://coneyislandfunguide.com/), Brighton Beach (historic
B & B Carousel, first built in 1906) Luna Park, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

My own backyard includes the historic Brooklyn Heights area with the Promenade and beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline, the new Brooklyn Bridge Park (85 acres) and recently renovated Dumbo (including Jane’s antique Carousel).

If you want to venture into Manhattan, the Battery Park area has lots of fun things to do, such as: boat rides to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Clipper City Tall Ship, free rides on the iconic Staten Island Ferry, National Museum of the American Indian, Museum of Jewish Heritage, the stunning Sea Glass Carousel at the Battery Conservancy, and Hop On Hop Off Bus Rides.

Farther uptown, Central Park is a popular and huge park to visit in the fall. It spans 843 acres and offers lots of attractions: zoo, tours, bike rentals, castles, fountains, carousel, and more (https://www.centralpark.com/things-to-do/attractions).

Sukkah Hops

Children love sukkah hops! Parents lead younger kids to three or four sukkahs to look, smell, and taste the joy of this holiday. You can do these hops on Hol Hamoed and combine them with a block party as well as play dates for your children.

Hesed and Family Visits

It’s always thoughtful to keep relatives and friends in mind who can’t travel to you, or those who are less fortunate than we are. Consider inviting guests who do not have a sukkah and try to carve out some time on Hol Hamoed to visit loved ones who can’t get to you. Please savor your special time spent in the sukkah with family and friends!

Wishing you all a Shana Tova and Hag Sameach.

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach. She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com (www.lifecoachellen.com).