Over here in the Cradle of Humanity Jews are ardently building their sukkahs. The serious ones are already finished. If you happen to be in Israel, or any other country with a sizeable Jewish population look out for small, fragile looking huts. Jews build these sukkah huts every year for Sukkot, or the Hebrew Holiday of Booths.
It is harvest time for the Jews, but to keep things in proportion and all men (and women) back down to size, the Jews build the temporary dwellings to reminisce about those 40 years wandering the desert with Moses. Those times weren’t easy, and even today with fierce Middle East humidity, sand fleas, pesky feral cats, and annoyingly loud neighbors, living for eight days in a sukkah ain’t easy.
The holiday of celebration starts tonight. Men are running around cities looking for the four species, an etrog (which will make a nice jam later – here’s the etrog jam recipe), myrtle branch, palm frond, and willow branch for their daily ritual over the eight days.
Children are busy decorating the huts with chain links, and pomegranates, and traditional women are in the kitchen cooking.
Today’s folk don’t need to stick to tradition to keep the sukkah kosher. For observant Jews there are some very specific specifications which are too complicated for me to get into right now; but you can also get a little fancy while keeping in line (and in God’s good books).
Back in 2010 there was a wonderful sukkah design contest called Sukkah City in New York. We stumbled upon a video today about that event (see above), one that discusses innovative design elements you can put into the sukkah (you can also spell it succah, succah, or sukka), which you can see above. Told by a rabbi, he also gets into the basic elements that you need to keep your sukkah kosher.
I love Sukkot. It is a joyous back-to-the-earth holiday. There are no fasts to endure like at Yom Kippur. No family pressures like at Rosh Hashannah (much like Christmas time for Christians), and with it comes the promise of the season’s first rain. Decorations are usually kept simple and natural, much like the sukkah itself. Four wispy walls, and palm leaves or bamboo for shelter from the sun on the roof.
Happy holidays and Hag Samech to our Jewish friends and readers.