The Sukkahleh Song has indeed become a favorite tradition at Shabbos House. Generation after generation of students here have savor and treasure it, considering it an anthem of sorts. Indeed, we sing it almost every night in the Sukkah, in both English and the original Yiddish, with some students adding their own emphasis and expression.
The English lyrics we use come from Rabbi Israel Rubin, Rabbi Mendel Rubin’s father, who translated (adapted it) from the Yiddish original. Rabbi Rubin (regional director of Chabad in Albany and dean of the local Maimonides School) grew up in Montreal, of which he has very fond memories, An important figure of his childhood was Reb Peretz Motchkin, an elder Chassid who was filled with rich wisdom and warmth, and much humanity.
See this Sukkahleh Song post on Chabad.org which links the Motchkin family appreciation of this song, together with the Galperin family’s connection it. It goes back to when Raizy’s great-grandfather, a Russian Chassid named Yankel Zuravitzer, made a 1200 kilometer journey to visit his ailing friend Peretz for the Sukkot holiday and the memory of them singing this song together. Yankel knew how much Peretz needed that visit, indeed it was an uplifting turning point in his life.
Read the story online – and let’s let it sink in right here and now, as we sit in the Sukkah in America, in 2016. It’s a story about friendship, about dedication, it’s about going the distance for someone else, uplifting them (and indeed, their families!) when they are down. Let’s think of how we can do the same.