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The “Days of Awe” have passed and Sukkot is here. Beyond their religious significance, these appointed times in the city are known for novelty and inconvenience; prices go up, streets fill with more than the usual number of international visitors and the rowdiness of Sukkot stands in spectacular contrast beside the profound silence of Yom Kippur preceding it. We live on a busy street in a breezy, sunlit apartment but without air-conditioning and so, through our always-open windows we are accustomed to the sounds of rumbling traffic, barking dogs, shouting pedestrians and noisy kids.
On the morning of Yom Kippur we awoke to absolute silence save the occasional tweeting of birds. We could have been camping in a wilderness.
In some ways, we were.
From dictionary.com: Wil·der·ness
5. a bewildering mass or collection.
If ever there was a bewildering mass, a confounding collection of religions, philosophies, doctrine, politics and agendas, this is it, but the more conventional sense of “wilderness,” a wild, uncultivated area such as a forest or desert, clearly applies to the meaning of Sukkot, the celebration commemorating the 40-year period during which the children of Israel wandered in the desert and lived in temporary shelters. Sukkot is plural for the Hebrew, sukkah, often translated as booth, or tent. It is also an agricultural celebration of harvest, or in-gathering.
(And…. Sukkot is also the last of the 7 appointed feasts. Those who believe that the feasts are no longer applicable after the first coming of Messiah may want to wrestle with Zechariah 14:16, which says clearly that we will all celebrate Sukkot at least one more time, here in Jerusalem. There is also a clear reference to Sukkot in Revelation 21:3.)
Regardless of its perceived significance the diverse Jerusalem population seems to be doing a thorough job of observance. Sukkahs are everywhere.
Marcia and I were unable to construct an official sukkah because the sky should be visible through the cracks in the roof and our balcony is covered. But our neighbor, Sandy (red blouse, above), invited us to dinner in the official structure she has set up every year.
We were forced to sing songs while there but later there was free food.
The Days of Awe officially end with Yom Kippur, but it is easy to be filled with awe when walking in Jerusalem during Sukkot. It is a time of rejoicing; singing, praying, remembering and, for those with ears to hear and eyes to see, a time to anticipate the end of this earthly drama with a very special host.
We met Carolyn Hyde last week. An amazing and talented person who made Aliyah with her husband and family quite some time ago. They live in the Galilee and I hope to tell much more about their ministry in an upcoming entry.
Below, snap shots of a few sukkahs in our neighborhood and a video of our visit to the Sukkah of Penn_E’s Uncle Eddie and Aunt Lisa.