Beth Am plans week of Sukkot events


Rev. Bryan Fulwider

With Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in our rearview mirror, Congregation Beth Am in Longwood sets out an ambitious schedule of events to celebrate the week-long festival of Sukkot. The holiday, which starts on the evening of Sept.18 is one of the three biblically mandated festivals. During the seven days of Sukkot we spend time and eat meals in a sukka, a temporary structure reminiscent of the fragile dwellings of the Israelites in their 40-year travels in the desert. The sukka also recalls the huts set up by farmers during the harvest season. Those in the fields lived in these huts, sharing meals and recreation time. We set up the sukka to remind ourselves that sharing time is our highest priority in life, offering thanks for that which is truly important in the simplest of settings.

On Wednesday evening Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m., Rev. Bryan Fulwider will enter the sukka at Beth Am and speak to the “empty nesters” in the community. Fulwider is an ordained minister who has served as a local church pastor for more than 30 years in both the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ. From 1999 until 2012 he served as the senior minister of the historic First Congregational Church of Winter Park. He serves as president of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida as well as the founding president and CEO of Building US, whose mission is to create better communities through understanding, acceptance and cooperation. He lectures widely on interfaith and diversity issues. An RSVP to Julia Lustig, education resource and family programming coordinator at Beth Am, at is necessary since sandwiches will be served. A holiday service will begin at approximately 7:30 p.m. in the sanctuary.

The week of activities continues on Thursday with the Beth Am Book and Movie Club meeting at 7 p.m. in the sukka, weather permitting. The Book of the Month for September is “Checkpoints” by Marilyn Levy. It is a heart-breaking story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seen through the eyes of real families. Rabbi Jack Reimer of the Jewish News Denver said of this book, “Marilyn Levy’s thesis is that the world is not black & white, that while each side may believe that its cause is righteous, they can yet somehow listen to each other, and that if they do, peace is possible.”

There will be a special Family Shabbat Bring-Your-Own dairy dinner in the sukka at 6:15 p.m. on Friday night, Sept. 20. All members of the community are invited to attend and fulfill the mitzvah of having a meal in a sukka. A “kid-friendly” Family Shabbat Service will start at 7 p.m.

High School students of Beth Am, their Jewish friends and any non-affiliated high-school students in the area will meet for lunch on Sunday, Sept. 22 at 12:30 p.m. for Sushi in the Sukka. As with all of the week’s activities and meals served in the sukka at Beth Am, the food will be in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. Notify Julia Lustig at if you plan on attending.

The week of Sukkot activities at Beth Am concludes on Tuesday as the Beth Am Religious School classes in eastern Seminole County will meet at 4:15 p.m. in the sukka at the home of Phil and Sara Kaprow. Beth Am students living in the Winter Springs, Oviedo and Casselberry areas can attend weekday religious school on Tuesdays at Fellowship Church in Casselberry and Sunday school at Beth Am in Longwood. Students who attend classes at the Kaprow’s will get a chance to shake their lulav and etrog in the family’s beautifully decorated sukka.

For more information on all of the holiday activities and school calendar at Beth Am call the synagogue office at 407-862-3505 or go to the Beth Am web site at


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