To Everything There Is a Season: Turn, Turn, Turn to Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) this Sukkot

by Dr. Roberta Louis Goodman, RJE , education director at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois, and OSRUI faculty member.

One of the privileges and responsibilities that I have as a congregational professional is serving on the faculty of our URJ camps. My roles include providing support to counselors and campers, helping out with services, tutoring bar/bat mitzvah students, and assisting with the study theme. Imagine my surprise when three summers ago, my first serving in the unit at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) that focuses on the arts for students in the seventh through tenth grades-that our topic was Kohelet, the Book of Ecclesiastes. My immediate reaction was: “It’s so dark. This is summer camp where they are supposed to have fun! What are they going to get out of the ramblings of an older person reviewing and lamenting on life?”

Three summers later, the staff members-and even some of the campers-are still talking about the session. The mere mention of the word Kohelet evokes a nod, a knowing utterance, of something that was deep yet accessible, provocative yet distressing, memorable and powerful.

Traditions about when Kohelet is read during Sukkot vary based on one’s location, roots, and/or the actual days of the week of Sukkot. I seize upon any opportunity that I have to share and explore Kohelet further, hence this d’var Torah.

Keep reading this edition of Ten Minutes of Torah on Reform Judaism.org.

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