Disability, General, Survivors

Sukkot: A Time to Reflect on the Gifts that Many Do Not Have

October 1, 2015 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

Religious and faith-based symbols.This fall marks a special time for the Jewish people, and one of my own family’s favorite holidays of the year. At the end of September through the first week in October, Jewish communities around the world will celebrate the holiday of Sukkot, commemorating the forty years our ancestors wandered the desert without a home to call their own.

The Jewish community and Social Security share a common mission—a commitment to protecting and empowering those most vulnerable in our society.

Before the holiday begins, my family will join many in our community in building an outdoor shelter called a sukkah. These dwellings symbolize the temporary structures Jews took shelter in after fleeing slavery under the pharaoh in Egypt. Together with our families and friends, we will celebrate our liberation and freedom by conversing, eating, and even sleeping in these sukkahs.

However, while Sukkot is a joyous reminder of all that God has provided us, it is also a reminder of the many people in our country who are homeless or forced to live in temporary housing. When Sukkot comes to a close, my family will no longer dwell in the temporary shelter of our sukkah and will return to our normal lives. Many, including the elderly, do not have this luxury.

Because of this reality, The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the umbrella organization for 151 Jewish federations and 300 network communities, works tirelessly to protect and advance programs and services that make up the American safety net.

For the past 80 years, Social Security has played an integral role in creating and securing our country’s social safety net. With the help of Social Security, many low income people, workers with disabilities, and elderly citizens have been able to make ends meet and keep a roof over their heads. The Jewish community and Social Security share a common mission—a commitment to protecting and empowering those most vulnerable in our society.

Sukkot provides us with an opportunity to reflect on how lucky we are to have a permanent home, but it is crucial that we remember those who are less fortunate year round. Judaism commands us to undertake Tikkun Olam, to repair the world, a charge Social Security undertook 80 years ago and continues to dedicate itself to every day.

JFNA and local federations throughout North America commit to supporting social service programs to help those most in need, and we are fortunate to have a wonderful agency such as the Social Security Administration partner with in these efforts.

It is traditional on Sukkot and other Jewish holidays to wish one another a hearty Chag Sameach — to have a joyous festival. This year, as we celebrate Sukkot and Social Security celebrates 80 years of service, let us all strive towards a world where each of us is able to build a joyous life for one another, and where we all might be able to come inside at the end of the day into our permanent homes.

NOTE: This is part of an occasional series of guest blog posts from national faith leaders.


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About the Author

William Daroff, Senior Vice President for Public Policy & Director of the Washington Office, The Jewish Federations of North America

Senior Vice President for Public Policy & Director of the Washington Office, The Jewish Federations of North America


  1. Hkwb

    Thank you for Sharing your practice of faith as it pertain to Social Securitu. A tax that is with held from our pay checks for work that we do.
    While this was set up as a means of retirement when it first began. However our government has used our money or shall we say stole our money that we worked for to fund programs that most of the workers that paid in ,will never be able to use . Our children pay in and are told don’t count on it being their when you need it. My faith says thy shall not steal ! So you can see how I can’t rejoice for those that have stolen from us. Our Senators and Congressmen do not even pay into Social Security. Seems a bit unfair to me.

    • Susanne T.

      It is ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE that our Senators, Congressmen and their staff members DO NOT PAY INTO SOCIAL SECURITY. THEY HAVE SINCE 1985, when the Civil Service Retirement System was eliminated. Under it, Congressional employees, Senators and Congressmen paid into CSRS and therefore did not pay into Social Security. Many STATES had similar retirement programs for State employees, who also did not pay into Social Security. In 1985, CSRS was ELIMINATED for NEW HIRES, or newly elected Congressmen & Senators and newly hired staffers. EVERYONE AFTER THAT DATE PAID INTO SOCIAL SECURITY. They also have a 401K equivalent, Federal Employee Retirement System, into which EMPLOYEE and EMPLOYER pay.

      HOW DO IT KNOW ALL THIS? My husband and I were BOTH Federal employees, having started working in 1968, now retired.

      The “right wing” perpetuates the LIE that Congressmen and Senators do not pay into Social Security. The other BIG LIE is that they receive their salaries for LIFE. ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE.

      But millions continue to believe the “BIG LIES” of the RIght Wing because it supports their agenda to foment hatred of the Federal government.

      It is SAD that there are so many gullible people who believe these LIES. Just proves that we are a “nation of sheep” led by liars who have their own antigovernment agenda.

      • David i.

        When they collect SS and other retirements do the also become effected by the “windfall” provisions or have they exempted themselves from that too?

  2. Arnie G.

    Great article!

  3. Soni

    Jag Sucot Sameaj. Toda Raba. Shalom you all!

  4. MJean

    Please pray for Israel.
    I am not Jewish, but see how they continue to be threatened by every islamic nation, especially iran!

  5. Gloria

    A great article… Chag Sameach!

  6. Christianfeast o.

    This is a time of in gathering of Gods people. We are celebrating what Christ and his apostles observed. Blessed time for friends and family. Happy Feast of Tabernacles,

  7. Leonard

    Being a disabled American who’s faith is Judiasm it is so wonderful to read this, especially our New Year began 2 weeks ago, and what’s great to have my religion recognized that our belief is to always reach out to those who may need and welcome them into our home . Sukkot is one of my favorite holidays exactly for what this piece says we must always recognize the gifts we have that are so easy to overlook. I love this article thank you for posting it.

  8. Deb M.

    God is smiling today for his people who are loved.

  9. Ana M.

    It pleases me to see beliefs being shared by social security and how social security certainly keeps a roof over many people. May you be blessed for sharing your story with us.

  10. Eileen S.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful and educational information.

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