The Jewish holiday of Sukkot lasts for seven days and is one of my favorite times to be in Israel. During the holiday we build Sukkahs, or outdoor huts, to show our faith in G-d and commemorate G-d’s protection of us during the 40 years of wandering in the dessert. We eat our meals and some people even sleep in their Sukkah. People begin building their Sukkah right after Yom Kippur. During that week you will see new Sukkah’s being built everyday and all of your neighbors yards are filled with different types of Sukkahs. Some people decorate their Sukkah with flowers, while others have fruits and decorative posters hanging. It is a beautiful sight to see all the different ways people celebrate and express their joy for the holiday!
In the shuk in Jerusalem, Machane Yehuda, there is a special area that is set up the week before Sukkot where you can buy your lulav, etrog, hadas and arava. Each of the four species represents a different body part and we place them together to shake them, representing the unity of the Jewish people. Just like all the body parts make up a whole and we cant function if we are missing our heart or limbs, so too the Jewish people is made up of unique individuals who are all united.
During Sukkot it is a gorgeous time of year in Israel as the weather begins to cool off. It is wonderful to spend time sitting outdoors and under the stars with friends and family. During the intermediate days of the holiday, or Chol Hamoed, it is an opportunity to travel and go on day trips with your family. Every popular spot is crowded during those days, whether it is a natural hiking area, or the mamilla mall in Jerusalem. It is incredible to walk through the mall and see each restaurant with it’s own sukkah decorated beautifully and filled with families visiting. One of the commandments of the Torah is Aliya LaRegel, which means taking a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in particular during festival times. How wonderful to see so many Jews all traveling to spend time in the holy city of Jerusalem during the joyous holiday of Sukkot!