A Holiday of Tanks and Torahs

The sacred mingled with the profane Saturday night in Tel Aviv’s Malchei Israel Square, where observant Jews and their children gathered with festive flags topped by apples to celebrate Simchat Torah.

The celebrants, who marched with Torah scrolls during the day for the “second hakafot,” mingled with dozens of tanks and pieces of heavy equipment displayed in the large municipal square during the Sukkot week by the Israel Defense Force Armored Corps.

Soldiers helped the youngsters climb up onto the steel monsters to enable them to wave their flags from a higher vantage point.

In general, fewer sukkot than usual were to be seen in Tel Aviv this year, and by Sunday, the end of the festival in Israel, heads of families were already dismantling the outdoor booths.

Also this year, fewer observant Jews were seen walking through the streets bearing the traditional lulav and etrog, even though they were on sale, for the first time, at supermarkets.

Religious circles suggested that fewer sets of the “Four Species” were sold this year, because the first day of Sukkot, at which special lulav blessing ceremonies are recited, fell on the Sabbath, when lulavim are not carried to synagogue.

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