Daily Israel Report

Photo Essay: Sukkot in Jerusalem

Photos from the Western Wall and around Jerusalem of different sukkahs and celebrations.
By Ben Bresky
First Publish: 10/16/2008, 10:18 PM / Last Update: 10/17/2008, 10:18 AM

Sukkot is a joyous holiday which commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt. Our ancestors wandered in the desert for 40 years before reaching the Land of Israel. During this time the Jewish lived in small tents or huts called a "sukkah." As described in the Torah, we are commanded to hold a week-long festival and also build sukkahs and live in them. "Living" means at the very least eating in the sukkah, although some people sleep in them as well, weather permitting. 

In Israel, preparations begin in advance with temporary stands springing up to sell sukkah material. Signs are seen throughout Israel advertising sukkah building material. The material must be predominantly made of all natural material, but today, the frames are often made of light metal.

Stores in Israel sell sukkah material including skach, the material used for the roof, which must be of natural earth-bound material. The sechach is usually made of either bamboo which can be seen rolled up in long green bags, or palm leaves.

.An audio and stereo store selling sechach.

A boy walks past a pile of palm leaves for sechach.

A man drags sechach into his home in the Old City. Photo: Michelle Baruch

Across the street from Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, also known as the shuk, vendors sell lulav, etrog, willow and myrtle branches, the four species used in the Sukkot blessings.

At the Western Wall, during the Birkat HaKohanim ceremony, the priestly blessing, there was singing, dancing and praying. The priestly blessing is performed by anyone who's father is a kohain, or priest, meaning hundreds of thousands of normal Jewish people. The mass priestly blessing ceremony is held at the Western Wall on Sukkot and Passover. The atmosphere was one of happiness. The crowd was tightly packed. People lined the streets and steps leading to the Western Wall with cameras taking photos, with tzedaka boxes asking for donations for charity causes, and passing out election flyers for the upcoming vote for mayor. All candidates were represented by activists with flyers. Also present were Christian tourists from the Feast of Nations parade which took place the day before, making for an eclectic mix.

A man named Mordechai stood on a chair and gathered a crowd as people danced and clapped near him singing songs of Jerusalem. He holds an ethrog in his hand.

Rabbi Ezra Amichai of the Jerusalem Soul Center.

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar in a sukkah above the Western Wall plaza reads to the crowd.

Israel National Radio's own Tovia Singer participated in the Birkat HaKohanim ceremony.

The large crowd for the Birkat HaKohanim ceremony filled the Western Wall area to capacity.                             Photo: Tovia Singer.

Jewish Ethiopians carrying brightly colored umbrellas.

A Torah in a wooden case.

A large wooden sukkah at the Western Wall plaza.

The sukkah from a top view.

Near the Cardo in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

A sukkah in the Old City. Photo: Michelle Baruch.

A view from the rooftops of the Old City.

The interior of the above sukkah, built by the Jerusalem Soul Center.

The gold dome can be seen in the background to the left. In the middle are wooden sukkahs.

A sukkah and synagogue in the Sha'arei Chesed neighborhood of Jerusalem near the GRA synagogue.

A sukkah peeks out from behind the decorative iron fence at a synagogue in Sha'arei Chesed.

A sukkah with the walls blowing the wind in the Nachlaot neighborhood.

Many restaurants in Israel have sukkahs.

The sukkah at Cafe Aroma in Mamilla.

A sukkah with a banner for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The sign reads "Ask me about Land for Peace" with a picture of a Native American. A sukkah is on the padio in the foreground.

A sukkah in the Rechavia neighborhood.

Advertisements for the many Sukkot events posted on bulletin boards.

 

All photos by Ben Bresky unless otherwise noted.