Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TT#32 - Sukkot

The Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, began this evening. Since Sukkot is not that well known a holiday among the world at large I thought I'd take the opportunity to share 13 facts about it:





1. Sukkot begins 5 days after Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

2. The holiday lasts 7 days and is then followed by the joint holiday of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (joint here in Israel that is, outside of Israel each gets its own day), which are generally thought of as part of Sukkot.

3. The word sukkot means "booths" - temporary huts that Jews build outside for the holiday in remembrance of the time our ancestors spent wandering for 40 years in the desert before reaching the promised land. Technically, Jews are commanded to "dwell" in these huts, but in practice most people just eat their meals in them. People build their sukkot in their backyards, on their balconies, or outside communal apartment buildings.

4. Having a ground floor sukkah when you live upstairs means a LOT of shlepping (food, drinks, chairs, tables, etc. up and down.

5. In the US the word Sukkot is often given its Yiddish pronunciation - Sukkos, pronounced to rhyme with "book-us".

6. A sukkah must have at least two and a half walls covered with a material that will not blow away in the wind. Why two and a half walls? Look at the letters in the word "sukkah" (see the graphic in the heading): one letter has four sides, one has three sides and one has two and a half sides. The "walls" of the sukkah do not have to be solid; canvas covering tied or nailed down is acceptable and quite common in the United States. A sukkah may be any size, so long as it is large enough for you to fulfill the commandment of dwelling in it. The roof of the sukkah must be made of material referred to as sekhakh (literally, covering). To fulfill the commandment, sekhakh must be something that grew from the ground and was cut off, such as tree branches, corn stalks, bamboo reeds, sticks, or two-by-fours. Sekhakh must be left loose, not tied together or tied down. Sekhakh must be placed sparsely enough that rain can get in, and preferably sparsely enough that the stars can be seen, but not so sparsely that more than ten inches is open at any point or that there is more light than shade. The sekhakh must be put on last. Note: You may put a water-proof cover over the top of the sukkah when it is raining to protect the contents of the sukkah, but you cannot use it as a sukkah while it is covered and you must remove the cover to fulfill the mitzvah of dwelling in a sukkah.*

7. Here in Israel the sekhakh used is cut palm fronds. Municipalities around the country send their gardening staff out to trim the trees before the holiday, leaving the fronds in piles for people to take to cover their sukkot.

8. People decorate the inside of their sukkot with their children's artwork, tinsel, garlands, and fruit.

9. Arbat HaMinim - The Four Species - While in the sukkah observant Jews say certain prayers to "rejoice to the Lord" while holding what are known as the Four Species. The four species are an etrog (a citron, a lemon-like citrus fruit native to Israel), a palm branch (a lulav in Hebrew), two willow branches (aravot) and three myrtle branches (hadassim). The six branches are bound together and referred to collectively by the name of their largest member, the lulav. The etrog is held separately, often in an ornate silver box. Religious Jews put great store in procuring top quality examples of each species and will reject any that are less than pristine.

10. Each year there is a "Four Species Market" in Jerusalem where people go to buy their lulav and etrog.

11. The first and last days of the holiday are what are called "full holidays" where stores close, people are off from work, etc. The days in between are considered half-holidays with fewer prohibitions and obligations. Many offices and stores open often but work just half-days.

12. Israeli children are off from school for the whole of the holiday.

13. We don't build a sukkah, but we're often invited to the neighbor's for a meal, and my kids contribute most of the Sukkot artwork they bring home to their sukkah, since their own children are all grown now.

* This was taken directly from Judaism 101 - it was too long and involved to try and rewrite correctly. Thanks for the loan of the text.






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53 comments:

ellen b said...

Blessings on your holiday...

Special K ~Toni said...

I am always fascinated to learn something new- whether about other religions or cultures, so thanks!

Wonderful T13! Mine is up, but not close to educational!

Nicholas said...

Thank you. Another fascinating TT as usual. All this was completely new to me. At least you didn't tease us with lavish descriptions of what you intend to eat there!

yh said...

How interesting! I had no idea such a holiday existed!

Tink said...

Very interesting! I don't know that much about Judaism, but I like to learn!
My TT shows my Tinkerbell collection.

pussreboots said...

Another very interesting TT.

Thanks for stopping by. My 13 bad books weren't read all in a row, they are a subset of the books I've read this year.

Nap Warden said...

Great TT, lots on there I didn't know!

Malcolm: said...

Thanks for the educational TT. I had never heard of Sukkot before.

busy91 said...

I was raised in a Jewish neighborhood, and I always loved this time of year. In front of the Synagogue they put the hut and I'd peer in and look at the harvest.

Chelle Y. said...

Interesting! I always enjoy reading about other people's religions and practices.

www.chelleyoung.com

Lori said...

Great info...I didnt know any of that:) Happy TT.

Buck Naked Politics said...

Yet another fascinating and educational TT. Thanks.

WorksForMom said...

Wow, thanks for the lesson - that was so interesting to learn!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Heh. I love the sukkah, but we've never built one. And I didn't know a lot of this -- it's my Reform upbringing, failing me again...

Have a marvelous holiday, love!

Head Gaggler said...

Great TT. Thanks for the refresher!

phyllis said...

i love your post, mine is about sukkot too:-) chag sameach!

Serina Hope said...

IThat is very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Thorne said...

Blessings to you and yours, and thank you for this informative 13! I first read about this holiday in a lovely book called (I think) "The Magdalene".

Jo said...

The Israeli film UshpizinI told you about last year is set in this holiday. I loved the film, did you see it yet? And I enjoyed reading your fact fest!

Xakara said...

Thank you, part of why I started participating in TT was to be exposed to as many new things as possible. I'm so glad I made here this week. :)

Wondeful information.

~X

.:mar said...

I didn't know about this Jewish holiday, very interesting TT, thanks!

Mom not Mum said...

Great list - I learned a lot that I didn't know reading it!!

Nancy said...

I've learned more about Jewish holidays since I've been reading your posts. Thank you for writing about them.

Now... whats on the menu? =)

Darla said...

Thanks for the explanation! I love learning about different cultures. Enjoy your holiday!

grace said...

I am learning so much from your blog. Now I can have more interesting talks with my bestfriend in-law (my bestfriend's hubby) who is from Israel. :-)

Gattina said...

I know a few of the most important jewish holidays or festivities, but I never heard about this. It was very interesting to read. I always love to learn something new in other religions or cultures.

Norma said...

Excellent explanation. Thanks! My TT about our trip to Ireland is up.

Believer in Balance said...

I learned something new. Thanks!

Kathy said...

Very informative! Our local paper actually featured this on the front page the other day. Kinda surprised me. Thanks for sharing!

Kathy said...

Very informative! Our local paper actually featured this on the front page the other day. Kinda surprised me. Thanks for sharing!

Vixen said...

I had never heard of this holiday. Thanks for educating me. That is one of the greatest things about the TTs is that I always learn something new. Have a great day.

Happy Mama to Three said...

Lovely holiday glimpse. Thank you!

Mine is up though not as educational =-)

Cindi

Christine said...

I'd never heard of this Jewish holiday and traditions.
Very fascinating. I always like learning something new about a religion or culture. Thankyou for sharing!

Congratulations on being T13s featured blog, Robin!!

Robin said...

I am? I hadn't even noticed. I'll have to go check out my name in lights LOL.

Nancy J. Bond said...

How very interesting! Wonderful idea for your list this week -- congrats for being a featured blog!

Minkydo said...

Very interesting. Thank you.

Pieces of Me said...

...and thanks to you dear sweet Robin, for introducing me to the TT in the first place. (I would probably find out anyhow, but it would take a lot more time) and oh, KUDOS to you for making the front page of TT. You deserve it! Happy Succot my friend, from Squirrel Hill Pittsburgh. (actually from the Squirrel Hill library where I'm taking a break from the writing) :)

You make my blogging time worthwhile.I thinking I'm growing into this. *double grin*

impworks said...

I used to buy an an international calendar every year so it's good to find out more about the special days it listed than the date.

Great TT :-)

Joyismygoal said...

More good lessons, do you know all these or are you learning also ?Come see my Photo essay on Hands

Robin said...

I knew most of the customs about the holiday, but not all. What I didn't know, like the official sukkah-building rules, I looked up. Secular Jews don't always build a sukkah, and if they do then they don't often do the bit with the lulav and the etrog, for example. My kids learn about it in school though and come home and teach me :).

Madame Rubies said...

I love this. I think, as a complete outsider, Purim is my fave Jewish holiday. One day, I will have a good Jewish friend and s/he will invite me to celebrate with them and I can learn more.

Donetta said...

The culture is so beautiful!

Fairly Odd Mother said...

We just finished reading one of the "All of a Kind Family" books and they celebrated Sukkot---it's interesting to hear more about it!

Helena said...

Hi, Thanks for visiting my list. I have not heard of Slippery Rock, do you maybe mean Spook Rock. My uncle has visited the Holy Land over there, and has slept in the desert, he even flies the flag of Israel. Great list you have.

Mrs. Brownstone @ XBOX Wife said...

Sounds like you will have a wonderful day!

Is Thursday Thirteen ANY 13 things? Thirteen recipes, 13 books, 13 movies, 13 reasons...

Robin said...

Glad you all enjoyed this one.

FOM - I'd forgotten all about those books. I loved them as a girl!

Helena - Nope, I definitely meant Slippery Rock. I'll have to ask my mom where it is. It's this great swimming hole with these huge flat (and slippery, hence the name) rocks all around. The only Spook Rock I know is up in Rockland County.

Mrs. Brownstone - yes, people list 13 of anything that strikes their fancy, and then posts a link to their list on the TT homepage (there's a link in my post). Then you start visiting others' lists and the fun begins.

Fourier Analyst said...

Fascinating. What a great insight into your life!

J. Lynne said...

I'd never heard of this holiday. I love learning about various religions and cultures. Now I'm going to keep my eyes open for such dwellings.

Happy TT and thanks for stopping by mine!

cajunvegan said...

Informative and interesting as always.

Thanks for stopping by my less than edumucational Bush edition.

edj said...

Interesting and informative. Thanks.

Janet said...

I didn't play this week cause I was away, but I saw a family on St. John all wearing the same Sukkot t shirts!

Happy Mama to Three said...

Thanks so much for visiting and commenting on my TT last week. I have created a little thank you for each of my commentors but could not find an email address to email yours along. If you will please email me I would appreciate it.

Cindi
HappyMamaToThree
lonnicusuoATyahooDOTcom

Robin said...

Welcome back Janet. I'd wondered where you were. I love that wedding photo you posted. Very cheeky LOL.

Cindi, I just e-mailed you :-).