by: Janet Aslin
Friday, 17 September 2021 | Once the somber Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) observances ended last night at sundown, many Jewish families began making preparations for the joyous celebration of Sukkot (Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles) by erecting a sukkah (booth) outside their homes.
The happy anticipation of the upcoming eight-day celebration, which begins at sundown on September 20, is in strict contrast to the observance of Yom Kippur, which has just ended. Then, the mood was solemn, streets were emptied of vehicle traffic and those old enough to meaningfully observe the day spent it quietly at home or in the synagogue, reflecting on the past year and praying for the upcoming year.
Sukkot is the third and final fall holiday and is meant to remind the Jewish people of how God divinely delivered their ancestors from slavery in Egypt and provided for them on their 40-year trek through the wilderness while they lived in temporary booths.
The sukkah itself is a flimsy structure with a roof of organic material—often long palm fronds—through which the sky can be seen. The walls can be made of any material that will sway in the wind.
Each family’s sukkah is gaily decorated with colorful clumps of hanging fruit—fresh, dried or plastic—pictures and streamers. The artwork of the family’s children, hand-made paper chains and more can be found. Sukkah decorations are often saved from year to year, and erecting and decorating the booth is a happily anticipated family event.
Traditionally one should take all their meals in the sukkah and sleep there as well. And it is a time when guests are invited and welcomed to visit the sukkot of family and friends. As far as sleeping, in my limited experience, most adults opt for the comfort of their own bed while the children are excited to camp out.
The holiday of Sukkot is also marked by Jewish eateries, and as I rode the bus to work this morning in Jerusalem, I spotted quite a few sukkot (plural of sukkah) that had been erected on sidewalks.
The first day of Sukkot will be a holiday in Israel with no public transportation. The eighth day, Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in Torah), while not technically part of Sukkot ends the week with extraordinary joy and gladness, as the annual cycle of Torah (Gen.–Deut.) ends and the new year begins. Torah scrolls are taken from their storage place and “danced” through the synagogue and out into the streets surrounding the synagogue.
This joyful season of remembrance has enabled the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to close out another year in the Land of their inheritance.
Posted on September 17, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 17, 2021)
Photo Credit: Yoninah/wikimedia.org
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