September 22, 2010, - 1:22 pm

In Observance of Sukkot (Tabernacles)

By Debbie Schlussel

Tonight at sundown, the Jewish holiday of Sukkot begins (and ends next week–it lasts seven days). I have a few newsworthy things I’ve written in advance, which will be posted during my absence on Thursday and Friday, and some more stuff I’ll put up, today. Also, my movie reviews will–G-d-willing–be posted on Friday, in my absence.

Although these Jewish holidays are killing me, I love celebrating them, and this one is one of my favorites.  Here’s some information about Sukkot, from a previous post:

Sukkot (also called Sukkos, Succos, or Succot) is called Tabernacles in English. It is one of the three Jewish harvest festival holidays, and we commemorate the Jews’ temporary existence (and temporary dwellings), while wandering in the Sinai desert [and subject to the will of G-d and the weather conditions imposed by Him].

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Various Versions of Sukkahs/Sukkot

To do so, Jews build temporary huts (called “Sukkot” for plural) outside their homes. They decorate the Sukkah (singular of the word) and eat all meals there during the holiday. (My father used to sleep in it, too.) It is very fun for kids because they help decorate the sukkah, and also visit other Sukkot in the neighborhood, eating candy and other treats there, sort of like on Halloween (but no tricks or treats, and it’s way more spiritual).

It’s a very nature-oriented/outdoorsy holiday: At night, you have to be able to see the stars through the leaves and branches that compose the roof. And many of the traditional decorations are gourds and colored, dried corn.

I miss the Sukkah my father constructed and built every year and the many decorations he put up. As I’ve written before, my favorite was a giant laminated aerial photo of the Old City of Jerusalem with thick white tape my dad affixed to cover up the mosque improperly and illegally built atop the Jewish Temple Mount. I also loved seeing the American and Israeli flags my dad put on the walls of our Sukkah.

Friends of mine invited me for meals in their Sukkot for the next few days. And I’m looking forward to it.

More on Sukkot here, here, and here.

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19 Responses

Let us remember that Sukkot is one of our three harvest festivals. Yes, Jews are farmers. To Deb’s non-Jewish readers, Jews had an ancient tradition of farming. Unfortunately, with the rise of Christian Anti-Semitism in Europe from the 10th Century onward, Jews were not permitted to own land, and were restricted to being merchants, moneylenders, and tax collectors.

Jews were finally allowed to own land in many (but not all) Western European countries in the latter part of the 19th Century. Germany took away that right.

Jews in The Promised Land always farmed, except when forbidden under periods of Islamic rule.

In the United States, some Jews farmed in the South (particularly in South Carolina and Mississipi) and in Northern New Jersey (chicken farms), parts of New England and and some places in the West. However, most Jews had lost their farming skills for over a thousand years, and went into the trades.

Jgrant on September 22, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Whatever farming skills the Jews “lost” over the years of wandering were quickly relearned and then some. That’s most evident, of course, in Israel, which raises fruits and vegetables of high quality. (Once a major export, in dollar terms they today are a fraction of high-tech exports.) They created “drip irrigation”, and computer controlled greenhouses (some turned over to the Palestinians in Gaza who proceeded to wreck them). Their dairy farms are so efficient they set up an “Israeli dairy” in China to teach them how to do it. In 1971 I briefly worked at a kibbutz harvesting bananas – in a place where the “experts” said such a crop wasn’t viable.

Re the sukkah, last Sunday morning I worked with friends and neighbors to put up a communal sukkah in our apartment complex, as we’ve done for many years. Our community also has a tradition of “sukkah walks” where we go from one private sukkah to another for snacks, drinks, and schmoozing. Lots of fun. Hag sameah and moadim l’simcha (happy holidays) to all.

Raymond in DC on September 22, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Succot as a holiday recalls that our sojourn in this life is a temporary one and the only true shelter all of us have is G-d and we’re ultimately dependent on Him for our survival and our well-being. The sukkah reminds the Jew that for all of our technology and conveniences of modern life, he is no different inside than this ancestors and Jewish life has always been throughout history, a series of temporary accommodations and more importantly, nothing can ever be taken for granted.

It is only with G-d there is permanent security in this world.

Hag Sameach and moadim l’simcha!

NormanF on September 22, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Chag sameach and may the bees stay far, far away!

I_AM_ME on September 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Chag Sameach.

Not Ovenready on September 22, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I love learning about the Jewish religion. How I’d love to convert, but I just can’t.

I always wanted to know about this holiday. I first heard about it on Howard Stern. I learned so much Jewish stuff from Stern, so even though he is pervy, he is not without merit.

Skunky on September 22, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    I don’t know why you “can’t” convert.

    But what’s stopping you from committing to being a good old fashioned Noahide?

    Shy Guy on September 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Hag Sameach! Beware the bears! And save some eats for me, eh?

The "Reverend" Jacques on September 23, 2010 at 12:14 am

Feliz Festa dos Tabernaculos.

Quero Agradecer AO Senhor, por sua Palavra se cunprir, de Geração à geração. e Hoje Estamos Comemorando SUCCOT.

manoel on September 23, 2010 at 8:44 am

With all due respect, you folks have really neat holidays.

Tanstaafl on September 23, 2010 at 11:02 am

Born and raised on a Kibbutz until I left at age 28 (to study medicine) I used to work in farming from very young age and I can tell you that it requires brutal physical labour and exposure to many dangerous chemicals that can very likely cause health problems later on in life.
Glamorizing it as a wondefull way of life is a mistake.

RG on September 24, 2010 at 1:19 am

Debbie, i don’t know why the Holdidays are killing you. Be proud!!!

Trevor on September 24, 2010 at 5:13 am

Debbie – 2 things:

1) Are the Jewish holidays really “killing” you? Is it that much of a drag on your existence?
2) Why do you spell God G-d? It’s not in vain, and I plus many others would respect you more for it.

Andrew on September 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Andrew, I can answer your second question to Debbie.

    The reason we won’t fully write out G-d’s name is out of respect. For example, what would happen if the servers of Debbie’s web hosting company were to crash, and this page were to get deleted? In a sense, it would be G-d’s name being deleted, which we don’t want.

    Or an another example, what if someone were to print out this page, then throw it out. We wouldn’t want G-d’s written name in a garbage either.

    Hope that clarifies things.

    Zelda on May 1, 2012 at 10:34 pm

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