New Jersey Jewish News
Ponds couple marks holiday with guests and giving
Doris and Ben-Ami Kadish like to share the joy of Sukkot with their neighbors at the Ponds adult community in Monroe as well as with the less fortunate.
For the last 12 years, the couple has had a small “open sukka” on their patio, where as many as 125 scheduled guests have dinner, lunch, or coffee and cake throughout the festival week.
In return the guests are asked to bring canned goods for donation to the kosher food pantry of the Jewish Family & Vocational Service of Middlesex County and to contribute money for tzedaka.
“Last year we brought a lot of boxes to the JF&VS,” said Doris. For some of her guests, she said, “this in a new experience; they’ve never been in a sukka.”
The recipient of this year’s Kadish Sukkot tzedaka is American Red Magen David for Israel, which supports Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross.
“We’re also running a small raffle,” said Doris as she showed off the prize: a brightly painted wooden figure of an observant Jew rocking back and forth on a wooden stand as if in prayer. Called The Shuckling Rabbi, it was made by fellow Ponds resident Art Schoenbart.
“I have a committee that schedules everybody to the minute,” said Doris just before the start of the holiday, as she stood at her dining room table laden with baked goods made by the members of her baking committee for her guests.
The open sukka is underwritten by the Yiddish Club at the Ponds, which the Kadishes founded and which Doris served as its first president. The club, which has attracted some non-Yiddish speakers, has grown to 150 members and now focuses on all things Jewish. The Kadishes also founded a havura at the Ponds, which meets in people’s homes and visits the sukka every year.
Erecting a sukka is nothing new to the Kadishes, who always put up the holiday booth at their home in Clifton and invited friends and relatives to celebrate with them.
“We always built a sukka bigger than most of the shuls’,” she recalled. “It was tremendous. We had activities for the kids. When we came here we missed it.”
Her husband added, “We even made wine. It was wonderful.”
Living in the Ponds, beyond space limitations, the couple faced another problem a sukka would not normally be allowed under condo association rules. However, they convinced the association to give them permission.
“It’s just been a lovely, lovely thing,” said Doris. “Ben has a committee that helps set it up. I have people baking and people who take our canned goods down to Jewish Family Service. And if it rains, we set up inside, and they can look outside at the sukka.”
Ben-Ami said that the couple is always happy to offer their hospitality. “Our door is always open,” he said. “And this is not a prefab sukka. We tried many designs until we came up with this design.”
Ben-Ami grew up in what was then Palestine and fought with the Hagana, the underground military organization that operated in Eretz Yisrael from 1920 to 1948. He also served in both the British and American military during World War II and is an ex-commander of the Jewish War Veterans Post 609 in Monroe. The couple is also active in the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.
“We do a lot of things Jewishly,” said Doris. Their Sukkot gatherings, she said, are “really quite exhausting, but it’s so rewarding... I know I’ve done something for the community.”
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