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Jewish Members of Congress, Staffers Fill Capitol Hill Sukkah

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More than 150 Jewish congressional staffers and at least five members of Congress celebrated Sukkot this week in a rain-beaten sukkah overlooking the National Mall.

For the third consecutive year, Lubavitch Rabbi Levi Shemtov hosted the event, which was held by the Capitol Jewish Forum. He stressed the image of Jewish unity when he explained the story of Sukkot and the reasons behind the shaking of the lulav and etrog, the branch and citrus fruit shaken during Sukkot.

“Maybe they were shaking up Congress on opposite sides today, but they were shaking the lulav on the same side,” Shemtov said, referring to the bipartisan attendance Thursday night.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) facilitated the event by allowing the forum to construct the sukkah on the Capitol plaza.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), according to those in attendance, said he accomplished more in the Sukkah on Thursday than inside Congress, where earlier in the day the House voted to begin an impeachment inquiry on President Clinton.

More than 500 people comprise the Capitol Jewish Forum, a loose-knit group of Jewish staffers and members of Congress that is hoping to expand its membership to staff in the executive branch in coming months.

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