Sunday, September 26, 2010


Sorry I meant to get this post up at the start of this holiday but I came down with a cold. I've been spending the last few days in bed reading and watching movies. Plus I had to do a little research to figure out what exactly this holiday is celebrating.

Sukkot officially began at sunset last Wednesday September 22 and will end at sunset on September 30. This holiday is also known as the Festival of Tabernacles or Booths. Booths are called Sukkot one booth is a succa. During this holiday everyone builds temporary booths that they will live in for the week. The booth must have at least two walls and you must be able to fit a table and chairs inside. The roof must be made out of organic materials you have to be able to see the stars through the roof. For the week you eat all of your meals inside the booth and you sleep in it at night.However if it is raining the Rabbis do not require you to sleep outside. You can find mention of this holiday in Leviticus 23 starting at verse 33. This section says it is a holiday celebrating the harvest of crops. The living in the booths is a reminder of the temporary shelters that the Israelis lived in the desert when God brought them out of Egypt. It is also mentioned in Deuteronomy 17 starting at verse 13. The final mention I found of this holiday is in Nehemiah 9 starting at verse 13. Biblically I think this was the time of year to read the Book of the Law of God out-loud. I think this probably means Deuteronomy or Leviticus. If you would like to look up my Bible references online I recommend Bible Gateway this website will allow you to look up the sections mentioned in the translation of your choice.

Today the theme of Sukkot is humility. Since most of us are no longer connected to the harvest directly. It is a holiday of being thankful for what you have for this one week everyone is equal living outside in booths. Now it is common to read the book of Ecclesiastes because the holiday is near the changing of seasons. It reminds you that your time on this Earth is short and every moment counts. Even if you buy the more expensive branches for the roof of your succa they will still die in seven days. I've been told Sukkot are kind of like are Christmas decorations in that people leave them up long after the holiday has passed. Near the start of the holdiay Claire and I were walking back from the grocery store and we passed by this parked car. The car had a large bunch of branches tied down to the top of it, like we do with Christmas trees the similarity made me smile. Unfortunately I was not carrying a camera with me at the time so no picture.

This is a good place to discuss the separation of Church and state in Israel...or rather the lack of separation. I knew coming here that Israel is a Jewish state but I didn't think about how that was going to effect me in school. For example in Ulpan we learned about the Western Wall and the practice of writing prayers on pieces of paper and placing them in the cracks in the wall. For homework that nice we had to write a five line prayer in Hebrew that could be placed inside the wall. The assignment was not optional. I guess I'm so used to church being separated from school this kind of assignment would never be given in a state university. Now Sukkot is kind of similar. The University built a succa in the botanical garden pictured at the left.

The student village also has its own succa. I guess I'm not used to school sponsoring religious holidays. This is my first experience being a minority in a religious sense. Israel is the first time I've experienced a country whose government officially celebrates religious holidays. Now I know in the United States we try to keep religion separate from government but the official holidays follow the Protestant Christian calender. It just feels so strange to me to have these holidays and have to research what they are celebrating.

Claire left for an adventure in Europe for the next 11 days. So I'm going to be by myself for a while. Hopefully I'll shake the rest of this cold soon. I would like to try a few more recipes out before starting school for the fall.


  1. Anna,
    I tried the eggplant recipe is great, thank you. I love my daughters pic,I am glad you posted it. I hope you feel better and enjoy the rest before the semester starts.

  2. Hmmm ..., I guess Me and BJ lived in a succa for months several winters back. At least two walls. An organic roof that you can see stars through. A table and chairs. Eat and sleep. Yep, did all that and here I thought I was just camping in a tent!

    With all the special holidays you'd eventually fill up a house with all the special stuff to celebrate each one. White clothes one month. Tents the next. Do the local WalMart equivalents hold special sales in special aisles for each of these?

  3. I never realized the significance of Sukkot. Thanks for showing the picture of the succa on campus. What a stark reminder to always remember what ancestors before you have endured in the practice of your faith. The Bible references in Leviticus and Deuteronomy were helpful to put this Holy week in context. Humility is something we should all be practice.

    I'm hope your room mate Claire has a wonderful trip and you get some rest and get over that cold. I always enjoy reading your blogs.