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Read-Aloud Story: 'The Gourd's Journey'
Once upon a time there lived a gourd, who was very bumpy, and had ridges and valleys all around himself. While he had many colors, he was not the prettiest vegetable in the garden.
The gourd lived in a patch of ground he shared with many other kinds of vegetables: tomatoes, onions, peppers, zucchini, even horseradishes. But while each of the other veggies turned ripe and was picked, no one ever came to see the gourd.
One day, he decided to look for a new home. One by one, he visited the Jewish holidays to see where he might be welcome.
First, he came to the winter festival of Chanukah. "Wow," he thought. "What a wonderful place to be! Lots of families celebrating together. Hey, Chanukah, do you have room for me?"
"Well, you are … interesting-looking," replied Chanukah.
"But we have no space for you. It's so crowded! The potatoes are here for latkes and apples for applesauce, but maybe, if you could leave your name and number, we could get back to you if there is an opening."
The gourd came to Passover. He arrived at the big seder plate and said: "I am the lonely gourd. Do you have room for me?"
"We would love to give you a space," said the plate, "but look how little room we have here already! I mean, we have eggs and lamb bones and matzah and bitter herbs."
So that's where the horseradish was off to, thought the gourd.
"We don't have room for you," the plate concluded.
Soon the High Holidays rolled around. Maybe now, thought the gourd, I will finally find a place. When he got to the Yom Kippur break-the-fast, the guests were famished. On the table, he saw his old friends the onion and the tomato ready to be devoured.
"Any room up there for me?" he asked. "I am your friend, the gourd, and I have no place to go for the holy day."
The tomato winced. The onion grimaced. "Well, we would really like to," they stammered, "But … but … "
"But what?" said the gourd.
"But … well, after fasting all day, do you think anyone really wants to eat a gourd?"
The gourd was very hurt and very sad. Maybe he wasn't the most attractive food. After all, he had been getting bumpier and uglier as the months went by.
But still …
Just then, the gourd saw a long line of vegetables making their way down Main Street.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"To the JCC," they replied. "We are going to help decorate the sukkah."
Here's my big chance, thought the gourd.
He followed the other vegetables, took a deep breath, and asked: "Oh, sukkah, can I help decorate you too?"
"Of course," said the sukkah. Well, our friend the gourd was very excited and felt proud to finally have a home.
With that, the gourd learned an important lesson: We should welcome everyone into our sukkah and share with them, especially those who have no permanent home.