October 13, 2008, - 3:11 pm

In Observance of Sukkot (Tabernacles)

By Debbie Schlussel
To my friends and readers:
Tonight at sundown, the Jewish holiday of Sukkot begins (and ends next week–it lasts seven days). Therefore, in observing it for the next two days, I will be out of blog commission, but I have some things I’ve written ahead of time to be posted in the next two days, including a blockbuster column on a very disturbing member of the McCain campaign–which has serious national security implications. Stay tuned for those. I’ll be back full-time, Wednesday Night.
A bit about the holiday: 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.

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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/outdoorsy holiday: At night, you have to be able to see the stars through the leaves that compose the roof. And many of the traditional decorations are gourds and colored, dried corn.
I will miss the Sukkah my father 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 covering 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.
Some friends of mine invited me for a meal in their Sukkah for dinner, tonight. And I can’t wait.
More on Sukkot here, here, and here.

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3 Responses

Best wishes for the holiday.

c f on October 13, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Miss Schlussel:
I don’t understand why the booths are built as you described.
If you’re supposed to be recreating the Israelite trek through the Wilderness, why wouldn’t you use regular rucksacks, tents, and sleeping bags?
What about posting an armed guard in case of attack by Egyptians, Moabites, or Canaanites?
To be historically accurate, everybody should sleep with their weapon, don’t you think?
Why would you want a roof that allows you to look up at the stars, but also won’t keep out the rain?
Do you build campfires to cook wienies and marshmallows?
That’s the part I would like, because then I could play my guitar and sing.
Do you all do that at Succoth?
The one song I remember from my trip to Israel (oh, so many years ago) was “SHALOM ALEICHEM”.
That’s because the words are so simple to remember, i.e., “Havanu shalom aleichem” over and over.
I also learned “THE EXODUS SONG”, because I loved the movie, which I went to see because I loved the music.
I can sing the Israeli National Anthem, “HATIKVAH”, but only in English.
I learned it from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Hey, you enjoy a wonderful holiday!
Thank you.
John Robert Mallernee
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400
NOTE: “My unpopular and controversial personal opinions are independent of my Scottish clan.”

writesong on October 13, 2008 at 6:34 pm

I always liked Sukkot as a kid, but I haven’t really celebrated it in since the 1980′s.

Anonymous1 on October 13, 2008 at 9:11 pm

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