5: Short story excerpts from Kadya Molodowsky's “The Shared Sukkah,” 1957.
Kadya Molodowsky (1894-1975) was a Yiddish poet, writer, teacher of Yiddish and Hebrew, and editor. In this story, from her collection A House with Seven Windows, Molodowsky offers a criticism of the insertion of status and social class into Jewish ritual, even as she idealizes the celebration of Jewish holidays in the Jewish Eastern Europe of the past. In the story, two families who live next to one another build sukkahs that share a wall. One family is much wealthier than the other. When the poorer family becomes wealthy, they build a large sukkah to share with the wealthy family, and the two wealthy families eat together. At the story’s end, the narration hints that the children of the two families are potential spouses for one another, now that they have a shared status.
Suggested Activity: Ask your students to discuss the following questions: What is the role of wealth in the building of a sukkah (here and in other excerpts in this kit)? Have students note the irony in the competitive and materialistic way the children talk about a holiday that centers on a simple, temporary dwelling. How do Khinke's feelings change from the first excerpt to the second? Why do they change? What do you think Molodowsky is saying about the role of socio-economic class in Jewish religious practice? Do you find humor in these excerpts?
Source: Kadya Molodowsky, “The Shared Sukkah,” in A House with Seven Windows, trans. Leah Schoolnik (Syracuse University Press, 2006), 176-181.