Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Chag’

First Sukkot in Israel

Sukkot is different this year. It is not just a little bit different — it is extremely different in almost every way.

Unwrapping the sukkah -- no assembly required

Let’s start with the sukkah.

In the past, I have used aluminum tubing to construct a frame. A canvas was then attached around the frame to create walls and bamboo mattes were rolled on top to create the roof.

Our current sukkah is a bit different. First of all, it came with the house that we are renting — the sukkah is basically the patio. I had to “construct” the sukkah by removing the plastic cover resting on the roof. The walls of the sukkah are composed of the house and the wall on the property line. No assembly required. Just unwrap and enjoy!

Our old home in Maryland did not have a deck or patio, so the sukkah was built on the lawn. It was generally raining in Maryland around Sukkot, so the lawn would get muddy and we would always track mud and grass into the house.

In Israel, the rain has not arrived yet and the weather is pleasant all through the night. It is actually enjoyable to use the sukkah. No eating in the rain or shivering in the cold.

Sleeping in the old sukkah was virtually impossible because of the rain and the slugs. The thought of waking up with a slug on my face always drove me inside the house. Sleeping in this sukkah is easy. I am no longer worried about waking up with slugs all around me, although perhaps I should worry about waking up surrounded by Arabs. I guess, in a manner of speaking, I am sleeping while surrounded by Arabs, but that doesn’t really bother me as long as they are not in my immediate area. Out of sight, out of mind.

My sukkah is not the only big difference. The fact that so many other families also have a sukkah is also a bit unusual for me. I used to walk around Columbia and see only a handful of huts. Here in Israel, there are sukkot everywhere — front yards, backyards, hilltops, restaurants, balconies, and rooftops. It is really awesome being saturated with the holiday.

The tops of each sukkah can be seen

Sukkah under construction before the holiday started

Outside the Old City

My old home was basically located in a Judaic wasteland with a small oasis called Chabad. We would sometimes venture from that wasteland to the holy city of Baltimore where we could at least experience a Judaic environment. Yesterday, we traveled to Jerusalem to experience the holiday in the true Holy City.

Jerusalem is always an experience. Because of the holidays, major portions of Jerusalem near the Old City were blocked to automobile traffic by police. We managed to somehow find a parking space that was only a 30 minute walk from the Kotel. It was all very orderly. Apparently, the annual rock throwing contest where Arabs throw rocks on Jews from the top of the Wall was abruptly canceled a few days earlier when soldiers broke up the event. Afterwards, the area on top of the Wall was restricted to those over the age of 50. I guess throwing rocks down upon Jews is a young man’s sport in the Arab world.

Entering the Old City

The Wall

The Wall again

Today, I traveled into the West Bank. It was my first time in the West Bank since arriving 5 weeks ago, but I’ll discuss that trip another time.

%d bloggers like this: