March 4, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I have a minhag to come up with a list of minhagim for each Yom Tov that might not actually be minhagim, but that my kids might think are minhagim if I don’t actually say something at some point.

I have a minhag to have one new idea for the construction of my sukkah every year that does not at all take into account the laws of physics.

I have a minhag to build my sukkah as far away from the house as possible, because that’s where the patio is

I have a minhag to constantly come up with excuses not to sleep in the sukkah.

My parents have a minhag to label every piece of the sukkah with numbers, so they can tell at a glance if they’ve installed one of the pieces upside-down.

I have a minhag to put the schach poles on the sukkah—which is sitting on my slightly-slanted patio—in such a way that the poles will roll off one at a time over the course of Yom Tov.

I have a minhag to hang fake fruit in my sukkah, and I don’t know why. Are we trying to fool the bees? My mother-in-law?

I have a minhag to hang both wall decorations and ceiling decorations. Just in case we’re not yotzeh with one or the other. This is despite the fact that we have zero ceiling decorations in our house unless you count old balloons, and that if we wanted the wall decorations in the sukkah to be like the ones in our house, we’d hang a calendar, a clock, pictures of our kids, thousand-piece puzzles that my wife put together, a Mizrach sign, and a fire extinguisher. And our ceiling decorations would be a single balloon, a smoke detector, and a ceiling fan. (If you set the fan on high, the schach mat takes off.)

I have a minhag that it should not occur to me to sweep the leaves off the patio until after we put up the sukkah.

I have a minhag to forget how to make lulav bands. Every year.

Even though the hadassim are supposed to be slightly taller than the aravos, every dealer I’ve ever bought from has a minhag to sell aravos that are considerably longer than the lulav.

We have a minhag that besides Kiddush and maybe Motzie, there is no moment when everyone in the family is in the sukkah. There is always someone in the house for some reason.

In the town where my in-laws live, the kids have a minhag to go from house to house looking at people’s sukkahs to see if there’s any candy in them.

We have a minhag to spend a significant part of the meals on Sukkos,more than any other Yom Tov,talking about the weather.

I have a minhag to wrap my hadassim and aravos in wet newspapers wrapped in foil. My father’s minhag is wet newspapers wrapped in that tall plastic bag that the lulav comes in, but I was matir neder on that minhag. Mainly because it was near impossible to shake the bundle of wet newspaper in and out of the bag every morning.

During Hoshanos, our chazzan has a minhag to disappear out of the room into the hallways part of the way through the circuit so no one can hear him, and the rest of us have a minhag to keep repeating what we think he’s saying based on the people around us, but who knows.

For every meal of Chol Hamoed, I have a minhag to come out to the sukkah, sit down, and then remember that I forgot one thing in the house. Such as a plate.

We have a minhag to not decide what we’re doing on Chol Hamoed until after chatzos… of that day.

My shul has a minhag to do that thing on Simchas Torah where the chazzan gets up to sing “Ha’aderes V’emunah” and someone else gets behind him and sticks his arms through the chazzan’s armpits and pretends that the chazzan’s arms are acting independently of his brain. But aside from wiping the chazzan’s brow and doing Hawaiian dance motions and adjusting his tie a hundred times, the back guy is not sure what to do with the joke.

The chazzan also has a minhag to sing “Ein Adir Ka’Hashem” in an extremely racist Sephardi accent. This is of course hilarious, despite it being the same joke every year. And it’s perfectly safe to do, because all the Sephardim specifically go to Sephardi shuls that day, because I bet they dance very differently. The songs are definitely different. I’ve never been to a Sephardi shul for Simchas Torah, but I assume they sing this song in a racist Ashkenazi accent.

We have a minhag that, for “Seu Shearim Rosheichem,” we dance by having two rows of people with their arms over each other’s shoulders come toward each other, almost crash, and then back up over a kid who’s trying to watch, and then two rows of people perpendicular to them take the opportunity to come in, almost crash, and repeat the process, until someone comes into the middle with no jacket and a tie that’s flopping around and directs traffic.

Where was this guy during Hoshanos?

Our shul has a minhag to throw the kids up for Moshe Emes, and the guy who can throw his kid the highest gets to do the backwards hagbah.

I have a minhag to make excuses not to put away my sukkah if I think the pieces are even a tiny bit wet. Unfortunately, I start davening for rain before I get a chance to take down my sukkah. This is by design.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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