pronouns: they, them, their

Coming Out Is A Process

Jewish Holiday

Rev. Chani Getter

October 13, 2019

A Sukkot Reflection

A friend called me about a month ago asking to meet. She had something personal she wanted to share. When we met, she explained that she recently found out that she was a “highly sensitive” person. What that means is that she experiences acute physical, mental, and emotional responses to stimuli. 

Here she was, in her late 40’s that she figured this out about herself. She also discovered that this is not the way everyone else feels. This reality that made her who she was – something that has shaped her and her interactions with people, and she didn’t know that this was not what all humans felt when things touched them, when they heard loud noises or when they were in large groups.

With this awareness, she realized that she didn’t have to keep fighting to fit in, that she could relax in the knowledge of who she was with her unique experience of life. 

As we talked, she reminded me of our meeting 7 years ago when she tentatively came out to me as gay. It was so eye opening, so incredible, so amazing to have a name for what she had been feeling all these years. Coming out to me then, she felt relief.

And this new coming out felt like liberation all over again.

We all as human beings go through the process of coming out to ourselves over and over in our lives. Whether it’s about our identity, figuring out our passion in life, our calling, our way of connection, etc.   

My friend needed to go through the challenging process of coming out as a gay woman all those years ago in order to step more fully into who she is, and it was that work that allowed her to go deeper to where more truths about herself could be revealed. 

The Harvest Festival of Sukkot (Sukkos) asks us to build flimsy dwelling places, or huts, with roofs that allow the sun, rain and wind to flow through them, and to spend 7 days in them. We eat, sing, pray, shake the arba minim (4 species) and some even sleep in the sukkah.

After completing the 40 days of reflection that began Rosh Chodesh Elul, praying, celebrating the New Year (Rosh Hashanah), forgiving ourselves and returning to who we are (Yom Kippur), we are asked to build a Sukkah, to take a step out of our comfort zones and walk into the vulnerability of a temporary dwelling place.

I marvel every year that we need to first forgive ourselves, return to our center – to who we truly are at our core, before we can set out into these exposed huts. There is a reason Yom Kippur falls before Sukkot.  We need to be grounded in who we are, understanding ourselves and understanding that even as we discover new things about ourselves (coming out) we, at our core, do not change. We need to first stand firm in our roots in order to walk bravely into that unknown and vulnerable mystery of this life (Sukkah). We can only then be ready for what needs to be revealed. And once that is revealed we can come out again, and again….and again. 

I bless us to step into this week of Sukkot with wonder, with curiosity, with the question: Who am I today? What about me is needing to be revealed? How can I show up in this impermanent world with ALL of who I am and all I have to offer?


Join me on October 27th at Congregation Beth Sholom of Teaneck Sisterhood Opening Brunch:
RSVP: To Karen at  or 201-837-3719.

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