Sukkot Comes To The Promised Land


In Jewish tradition, Sukkot is known as one of the pilgrimage festivals, one of the three times each year when people from around the Holy Land would head to Jerusalem to worship and celebrate at the ancient Temples.

The Second Temple was destroyed two millennia ago, but Sukkot continues to hold a special place in the hearts of Jews of all affiliations who live in Israel or travel there for the holiday.

In the days before Yom Kippur, sukkot of various sizes, materials and designs appear in opens spaces throughout the country. Stores selling sukkah decorations and the schach material that goes atop the temporary structure do a brisk trade. Along the sidewalks and back alleys of religious neighborhoods, religious and secular Jews buy the lulav-and-etrog sets from merchants who offer a variety of palm fronds, willow leaves, etc.

A haredi man, above, Sukkot materials in hand, passes an Arab man at the Damascus Gate, the major entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem in the Arab section of east Jerusalem.

During the intermediate days of the holiday, Israel is filled with the sounds of daily concerts and musicians who perform on street corners throughout the capital.

Websites are replete with pictures of mammoth etrogim (bigger than the owner’s head) and with what-to-do-on-Sukkot advice. Among the country’s cultural offerings: a dance festival at Mitzpeh Ramon, a storytelling festival near Tel Aviv, a puppet theater and film festival in Holon, a two-day jazz marathon on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road, an exhibition of miniature sukkot in Safed and a music festival in Abu Gosh, an Arab village near Jerusalem.

And Christian supporters of Israel have their own Sukkot-time event each year — the Feast of Tabernacles march of solidarity, sponsored by the International Christian Embassy, through the streets of Jerusalem.