The mitzvah of hachnasat orchim, welcoming guests, is central to Judaism, but reaches true heights during the festival of Sukkot when families invite friends, loved ones, and even strangers, for meals in the sukkah. On Sukkot there’s also a tradition to invite symbolic ushpizin (Aramaic for guests) to the sukkah. These guests are often our matriarchs and patriarchs, and it’s common to see the walls of a sukkah decorated with likenesses of Abraham, Isaac, Rachel, Rebecca, etc. Modern expressions include inviting family members who are no longer with us, or even famous Jews who inspire us.
Our Israeli sister cities of Yokneam and Megiddo are champions of the hospitality mitzvah. In an astounding expression of hachnasat orchim, 62 local families hosted 121 visitors from Atlanta in their homes last year! At a recent thank-you event, mayors of both cities raised a toast for another fruitful Partnership year, enjoyed great music and good company of our local Partnership community.
Here in Atlanta, Jewish expressions of southern hospitality and radical welcome are on the rise. Over the last three years, around forty families have already hosted the Shinshinim, our Israeli gap-year ambassadors. Later this year, they’ll switch to new host families and ten more Atlantans will open their homes to the Shinshinim.
At this summer’s 2019 JCC Maccabi Games, 400 local families opened their homes to athletes from across North America. Super host Dalila Cohen and her family hosted the 13 Israeli athletes Yokneam/Megiddo in their North Fulton home! We love the way our communities support each other and build bridges of friendship through hachnasat orchim!
Here’s a great opportunity to practice hachnasat orchim — apply to be host family for one of the Shinshinim later this year. For more information please contact Andrea Levy, Host Families Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
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