Bookmark and Share

Alte Synagoge in Baden-Baden, Architekt: Ludwig Levy, 1899 erbaut, 1938 zerstört

 

Sukkot

 Sukkot is the so-called Feast of Tabernacles and lasts seven days. “Sukka” is a hut made of foliage. According to its primary meaning, it is a harvest festival; hence, people in the synagogue also give thanks for all the fruits and pray for rain, because Israel is a very dry country. Like the two other pilgrimage festivals of Pessach and Shawuot, besides its natural background, a religious and historical meaning for Sukkot gradually emerged: The Jews remember the forty-year migration from Egypt through the desert to the “Promised Land” of Israel. In those times, they lived in huts, which they built over and over again anew from dry palm leaves. As a reminder, they are supposed to live in self-built huts for seven days each year.

Today`s Sukka is made from branches, foliage and cloth and is decorated with flowers and fruits. The roof is made from branches and foliage and should be thick enough to provide shade and transparent enough so that the stars can be seen at night. The hut is placed in the garden or on the balcony. In some residential complexes, huts are established, in which a number of families can take turns having their meal and receiving guests. In many synagogues, a hut is built in the court of the synagogue, which can be used freely by members of the community.

Additionally, a special bouquet of flowers is important for celebrating Sukkot. This bouquet consists of date palms as well as branches of both myrtle and willow, all tied together. In one hand, one takes this bouquet, and in the other hand, one takes a paradise apple, a citrus fruit with a special scent. During the morning service in the synagogue, this bouquet is “shaken” according to ancient custom on all seven days; that is to say, it is moved in the four cardinal directions, as well as upwards and downwards. It signifies the compatibility of different plants as well as people. A newer interpretation says that Jews scattered across the whole world live like willow branches and are always connected with their native country Israel, where the palm, the myrtle and the paradise apple grow.