Gathering together all the Ushpizot this Sukkot holiday.
Sukkot is a time to invite friends and family into your Sukkah, to delight in the holiday together. If you could invite any special guests – from your favorite movie stars to your favorite artists – who would you invite?
For decades, Jewish tradition has outlined a strict list of 7 figures who you can invite, spiritually of course, into your Sukkah: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joseph, Aaron, and King David). All of them are male and all are from biblical times. They are known as the “Ushpizin” – “guests” in Aramaic, based on Kabbalistic practice.
“I’m amazed at how easy it is for women to be part of the Jewish leadership, if they only have the chance to do it,” says Dov Abramson, a 41 year-old studio owner in Jerusalem.
Dov, a Graphic Designer, was born in the US and made Aliyah to Israel when he was 7 years old. The combination of his Orthodox upbringing and American background, as well as the fact that he lives in a pluralistic community in Jerusalem, were all natural triggers for him to create a set of 24 “Ushpizot” – the first official female version of the traditional Sukkah guests.
“We didn’t invent this idea, there were many families who put up their own female figures in their Sukkah,” says Dov. “We just wanted to make sure it’s well-designed, and accessible for all the families who want to have women role models as well, so we came out with 24 women who we think represent Jewish women throughout history.”
So who are the lucky 24? You can find biblical figures such as the 4 Matriarchs, famous poets such as Rachel and Naomi Shemer, political figures such as Golda Meir, war heroes such as Channah Senesh the paratrooper who was killed in WWII, and famous Israeli singers such as Ofra Haza (pictured).
Along with the Ushpizot, Dov updated another tradition that left out women on the holiday. The traditional Simchat Torah (Celebration of Torah) flag only pictured boys dancing with the Torah. Today, that seems almost unbelievable. Dov has modernized these flags to include everyone – see the pictures for yourself.