A Note from the Chief Impact Officer in October

During the Jewish holidays there is an emphasis on the value of inviting guests, in particular those in need, to join us for the holiday meals.1 On Sukkot, we appear to take this idea of spending time with others beyond our family considerably further.  

The Talmud teaches2 that it is not only possible, but fitting, for the Jewish people to dwell together in one singular Sukkah. This creates a beautiful image of unity, all of Israel guests together at a single festive holiday meal, but with roughly 16 million Jews in the world, this idealized aim appears on its surface to be completely impractical.  

Further still, the Talmud teaches3 that a person is to dwell in the Sukkah just as they would in their own home. Given that, this grand vision of a singular shared Sukkah needs to go beyond mere capacity to physically accommodate every Jewish person, but must also possess the amenities and atmosphere necessary to provide each and every person with the same comfort, familiarity, and warmth as they would enjoy in their own home.  

Our homes are the places that support our physical well-being, where we find food, shelter, safety and security. Our homes can be vehicles for material well-being, homeownership often leading to financial stability. Having a place to call home supports our social-emotional well-being, providing a place to belong and sheltering us from the demands and judgment of the outside world. When we care for our homes, they often become places of pride and outlets for our self-expression. A Jewish home functions as a critical anchor in our millennia-long chain of peoplehood, the essential platform from which we transmit Jewish identity, values, culture, and education, from one generation to the next. 

On Sukkot, we are asked to leave the carefully curated and maintained sanctum of our private homes and transpose all our home's positive attributes into the Sukkah that we build outside. There, exposed to the world, we further strive to welcome and encounter the breadth of our people to invite them (and be invited) to be at home within the Sukkah’s sacred space together with us.  

A Sukkah large enough to accommodate 16 million Jews may fall outside the scope of physics, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still apply this idea in practice to co-create an inclusive and supportive community where each member of our community has the unique physical, material, and social-emotional support necessary to truly feel “at home.”  

Speaking to this season, Chasidic master Rabbi Nathan4, wrote5 that when fulfilling the Mitzvah of sitting in the Sukkah, “One should concentrate on being part of the entire people of Israel, with intense love and peace, until it may be considered as if all of Israel dwells together in one sukkah.” This Sukkot, we ask you to think of, and strive to connect to, the full breadth of the Jewish people, in Dallas, Israel, and throughout the world. We encourage you to take pride in the knowledge that, with your assistance, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas builds this metaphorical Sukkah by consciously investing in the physical, material, social-emotional, and psycho-spiritual well-being of our entire community, while proudly promoting Jewish life in its rich and diverse tapestry.


Chag Sameach,


Rabbi Mordechai Harris

Chief Impact Officer
Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas



1 Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Yom Tov 6:18 - “When a person eats and drinks [in celebration of a holiday], he is obligated to feed converts, orphans, widows, and others who are destitute and poor. In contrast, a person who locks the gates of his courtyard and eats and drinks with his children and his wife, without feeding the poor and the embittered, is [not indulging in] rejoicing associated with a mitzvah, but rather the rejoicing of his gut.”

2 Sukkah 27b, based upon Vayikra 23:42

3 Sukkah 28b, based upon the same verse 

4 1780-1844, primary student of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

5 In his masterful work Likutei Halachot where he explores the deeper significance of each of the individual commandments