In a traditional celebration of Sukkot, the “Festival of Booths”, congregants of Temple Judea enjoyed all of the significant and joyous aspects of this festival, which is held outdoors. Temple Judea’s large Sukkah was decorated with hand-made colorful decorations by their religious school students, making it all the more festive.
The Sukkah (plural: Sukkot) is a temporary structure built out-of-doors and meant to be used for the duration of the celebration which lasts one week. The roof is typically covered with bamboo sticks or palm leaves, and partially open at the top to observe the sky above. It is also surrounded on three sides by slats of wood, reeds or other materials which renders it partially open. The Sukkah symbolizes the impermanence of shelters on the Biblical path of the Jewish people during their trek through the desert for forty years and celebrates the way in which God protected them under difficult desert conditions.
You shall dwell in sukkot seven days…in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I the Lord your God.
This year was an especially joyful time to celebrate since this holiday is mostly held outdoors. For some people it was their first opportunity to be out of their homes due to quarantine requirements. All necessary protocols were observed, including social distancing, as well as the providing of hand sanitizers and latex gloves, all to help keep the congregants safe during the epidemic. Masks were required of all participants.
The Sukkot ritual is to take four types of plant material: an etrog (a citron fruit), a palm branch, a myrtle branch, and a willow branch, and rejoice with them. The custom is to shake these four species, the ‘lulav’, in all directions, acknowledging that G-d is all around and channeling the divine energy into the world. It is also to be thankful and praise G-d for the fruit harvest.
Today, besides a communal Sukkah, many people build their own Sukkah, providing a place for their own families and guests to pray, sing and enjoy their meals together.
Temple Judea is a warm and inclusive congregation, welcoming new members. It is located at 333 Searingtown Road, Manhasset (exit 36N on the LIE).For more information about Temple Judea, call (516) 621-8049; or
www.temple-judea.com. The first year of membership is free