Some are made from wood, others out of painted metal. I’ve even seen one constructed by stacking 2 litre Coke bottle crates one on top of the other. You will see some preferring the privacy of their backyard and others will place it prominently in their driveway right out front. Yes, I’m talking about the colorful Sukkot that will dot our neighborhood this time of year as many of us head outside, even as the weather begins to change, to celebrate the Sukkot holiday.

From my earliest memories as a little girl I can remember my Father explaining to me that the Sukkah which we were to spend the next 8(7) days in was to be intentionally created in a temporary fashion. The reasons were twofold: first to commemorate that Gd took the Jews out of Egypt and immediately provided them with shelter as they moved forth through the desert and, secondly, to remind each and every one of us that while this time of the year (historically speaking) was a moment for those in an agrarian society to enjoy the fruits of their hard labor  by heading indoors to the comfort of their homes, the Torah commands the Jews to head back outside into temporary structures as a stern reminder… The permanent comfort you seek from your hard work and the security provided by your reinforced, sturdy homes is an illusion – The Lord gives and the Lord takes – It’s not your hard work alone, but the grace of Hashem that allows the life you live. 

It has struck me as nothing short of poignant that we will be celebrating this holiday and learning this message so close to a natural disaster that for too many of us destroyed the very sense of security and permanence that those of us living in this town for decades have enjoyed.

A woman whose house we sold only days before the rains came to Teaneck called me up in tears after the new owners had their basement flooded on only the second night living in their new home; “I promise my basement never had water before – they must think I am a liar and I can’t bare it!” 

A builder I work with was explaining to me how so many of these basements in new homes flooded when engineering calculations for drainage used rainfall numbers from 100 year storms and, what we experienced a few days ago was never seen before, not even in the last 100 years. 

Each one of us has our story from that night and for me it can only tie somehow into the message of the Sukkah and our shared story of leaving Egypt under only the protection of the Divine/Heavenly clouds. 

Our community remains strong and as always we will continue to  find countless ways to help each other through these hardships. The message we each take from these storms will be one of growth and rebuilding and make no mistake: Purchasing a home in Bergen County is still one of the safest investments a family can make ( just make sure to review the flood section of your insurance policy).


Nechama Polak is the Broker of Record and Owner of V and N Group LLC. V & N Realty is located at 1401 Palisade Ave in Teaneck, NJ. Feel free to email Nechama at nechamapolak@gmail.com or call 201.826.8809.