We had our last Sukkot meal under the boughs and branches-
The lulav is dried out; the willows have fallen apart and we beat them beyond further use-
This celebration of harvest, of being outdoors comes to its close.
Today, this eighth day of gathering, Shemini Atzeret.
We cease our festivity, to stop and reflect;
We open our mouths to pray for life-giving rains, desperately needed to renew this land for future growth.
In the months ahead, our daily prayers will appeal to the heavens
to bless us with wind and water,
to sustain our land, to cultivate sustenance for ourselves.
Living here in southern California where, like Israel, we yearn for rain, where we ration our water,
each tiny drop on our arid soil is a blessing and a gift.
All year long, our family plans and plots out our garden,
we sow and we seed;
we nurture the fragile plants that bring us bountiful harvest;
But, we know deeply and truly that all depends on so much more than our own labors.
So today, when with our people I begin my prayers for wind and rain,
I turn for a moment back to Yom Kippur in humility,
I turn forward to the Holy One of Blessing in hope –
M’chayeh hakol – You are the Source of All
Mashiv haruach umorid hagashem – You are the One who brings the wind and rain in its time.
May we all be sustained in the coming months,
with enough to water our parched gardens and our thirsty souls.
Holy One of Blessing, accept our prayers for rain;
Bless our land with plentiful yield, and bless our souls with abundant love.