Israel FESTIVAL MUST-SEE: SUKKOT
Sukkot is a week-long Jewish festival that follows Yom Kippur. The first and last days are Shabat-like holidays, and so most businesses close, but lots of activities are organised across Israel, making it a festive time to visit. The intermediate days are called Chol Hamoed, when certain work is permitted. Sukkot marks the end of the harvest period, but it also holds religious significance in commemorating the independence of the Jewish people.
Throughout the week, all meals are eaten in a sukkah, a structure that is built from plant materials and wood outside; many people sleep in them, too. The sukkah is intended to remind Jewish people of the kind of fragile dwellings that the Israelites lived in when their ancestors lived in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt.
Building one during Sukkot is a mitzvah – a religious obligation. Today, many people decorate them by hanging paper chains, fruits, vegetables, cards and pictures from the rudimentary rafters. It is also a custom to invite guests to the sukkah.
National parks, museums and other heritage sites are very busy during Sukkot. Most museums host special events for the holidays. During the intermediate days of Sukkot, there are performances of music and dancing.
The seventh day of Sukkot involves a synagogue service in which worshippers pray – according to the Talmudic tradition – by presenting the four species: etrog (the fruit of a citron tree), lulav (a frond from a date palm tree), hadass (branches from the myrtle tree) and aravah (branches from the willow tree).