President Goes Green in Open Sukkah

President Rivlin promotes awareness of the importance of environmental conservation, including recycling.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

President at Sukkah
President at Sukkah
Itzik Edri

President Reuven Rivlin and First Lady Nehama Rivlin opened their official home to the public on Monday morning, with this year’s Open Sukkah themed ‘Sukkot in the Environment” and hosted in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry for Environmental Protection.

The aim of the event was to promote awareness of the importance of environmental conservation, including recycling, sustainable construction, and the development of green areas.

Visitors to the Sukkah enjoyed a range of activities and displays for all ages, and received information about the ‘recycling revolution’ and the regeneration, development and investment in parks and green areas across the country. There was a range of exhibits, including a display of an innovative system which transforms organic waste into gas for domestic use – currently used by Bedouin communities – as well as statues of animals created from used bottles, board games made from recycled materials, and a stand for making durable hats from recycled newspaper.

There were also performances by various artists, using instruments made from recycled material.

The Open Sukkah was decorated with a “Wall of Nature” created by the Ministry of Agriculture from a range of flowers and produce, including Anbara dates which arrived in Israel from Saudi Arabia, and are currently being studied and developed before their release onto the general market; the first fruits of the large Shinshu persimmon, and a new species of red raspberry from Poland called Polka.

The President toured the displays and stands, personally greeted the visitors to the Open Sukkah, taking photographs and shaking hands with many. He welcomed them, saying, “My wife and I are delighted and excited to host you for the first time in our Sukkah. On the festival of Sukkot, it is customary that we host ‘Ushpizin’ (traditional historical visitors); today each and every one of you, is one of our ‘Ushpizin’.”

The President added: “Sukkot, more than any Jewish holiday, represents the human connection with nature and the environment. At Sukkot, we are commanded to leave our home, and instead dwell in a temporary home – the Sukkah.

“A Sukkah, is open to all, without barriers. It invites us to look around, at the people and nature around us. The Sukkah is always placed outside, where you can hear and feel those behind the walls, those we would hardly notice on a day to day basis. The Sukkah takes us out of our personal comfort zone, and invites us to see who and what is around us, that we otherwise just don’t notice.

“Mankind does not live alone. Our actions have a decisive influence on the whole environment.

"From my wife, Nehama, who is today the real host, I learned that sensitivity toward the environment, means being sensitive toward everything in it, people, creatures and plant life.

“From Nehama I learned, the importance of our personal commitment, in our everyday lives, of maintaining the place where we live, in which our children will live also.

“There are already at the President’s Residence, a community garden, a compost and recycling area, and judging by how I know Nehama, this is just the beginning.

“If each one of us, were to accept upon ourselves, to do something for the environment as part of our routine, it would be a significant step on the way to a more pleasant future for us all.

“In Jewish tradition, this year marks the ‘Shmita’ year, when we allow the earth to lay fallow, An environmental Sabbatical for the land, for the economy and for the individual. Bringing together the common principles of social and environmental responsibility. This is a responsibility born out of the principle of creating a reality in which we practice mutual acceptance, of listening with mutual compassion, along with respect and concern for the environment in which we live.

“As you enter our Sukkah, the First Lady and I wish to bless all of us, that we should succeed to sit together in one Sukkah, to remove that which divides us, and find the common ground.”