Israel Sukkoth Fete Marks Religious Identity with Non-israel Jewry

The Jews of Israel demonstrated their solidarity with Jews throughout the world in street dancing last night to mark the close of the eight-day Feast of Sukkoth. The observance of the close of the festival included an extra outdoor performance of the Hakkafoth to symbolize the religious and national identity of Israelis with non-Israeli Jewry. This special observance will be made an annual event and established as a new holiday on the Israel calendar.

Throughout Israel, old and young revelers congregated in the public squares where they danced around their rabbis bearing the Scrolls of the Law. More than 20,000 persons jamned the streets of Jerusalem outside the recently completed Supreme Religious Center, Heichal Schlomo, where they were greeted by Chief Rabbis Isaac Halevi Herzog and Itzhac Nissim.

To mark the event, the writing of a new Torah was started. Moshe Shapiro, former Minister of Religions, invited 12 representatives of various communities to symbolize the 12 tribes by inscribing one letter each in the new Torah. The celebrations in Tel Aviv and Haifa also attracted more than 20,000 persons and similar festivities were carried out in Safed, Petach Tikvah and other urban and rural centers.

In the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim quarter of Jerusalem, hundreds of Chassidic disciples in fur-trimmed hats and gabardines danced and swayed in ecstasy. The Hebron Yeshiva was crowded as usual with visitors who came to watch the students, an event which has become the focal point of the Simchat Torah rejoicing. Many tourists joined the tightly-packed crowds in and around the Yeshivah. While this festival has always been widely observed by the Jews of Israel, the enthusiasms this year reached an unprecedented peak.

NEXT STORY