17 October 2016

Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot/ סוכות ~ Happy holidays חג שמח

As an expatriate, it is so interesting to be living here in Israel especially during the Jewish holidays and to observe first hand the different traditions and customs.  Here are a selection of photographs showing temporary fragile dwellings put up outside restaurants and in the balconies of apartment buildings during the week long holiday of Sukkot/סוכות as well as an extract explaining the significance of this holiday. 

The Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot/סוכות began at sundown on 16th October and it lasts until nightfall on 23rd October (24th October outside of Israel).  It is a biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei (varies from late September to late October).  The Hebrew word sukkot is the plural of sukkah, "booth" or "tabernacle" which is a walled structure covered with s'chach (plant material such as overgrowth or palm leaves).  A sukkah is the name of the temporary dwelling in which farmers would live during harvesting, a fact connecting to the agricultural significance of the holiday stressed by the Book of Exodus.  As stated in Leviticus, it is also intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt.  Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and many people sleep there as well.  On each day of the holiday it is mandatory to perform a waving ceremony with the Four Species ארבעת המינים. The holiday lasts seven days in Israel and eight in the diaspora .  The first day (and the second day in the diaspora) is a Shabbat like holiday when work is forbidden.  This is followed by intermediate days called Chol Hamoed when certain work is permitted.  The festival is closed with another Shabbat like holiday called Shemini Atzeret (one day in Israel, two days in the diaspora, where the second day is called Simchat Torah.  Shemini Atzeret coincides with the eighth day of Sukkot outside of Israel. 

Happy holidays ~ חג שמח
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