Sukkot in Israel

As the Sukkot holiday begins tonight, Israel is bustling with lots of action. Lulavs and Etrogs are abound, Sukkot are on almost every street corner,including four in front of our building. Jerusalem is gearing up for many activities including Ir David, The City of David tours, Birkat Kohanim at the Kotel where 25,000 people descend on the Old City to be blessed by thousands of kohanim and a giant Sukkah made of candy can be visited at city hall!

Another city that is getting ready for its many guests is Hevron, the capital for the first seven years of King David’s reign and burial place of Avraham, Sarah, Yitzhak, Rivka, Yakov and Leah.

Yesterday, my husband Josh and our son Dov had the opportunity to visit Chevron and saw first hand the preparations that were being made.  Huge Sukkot were being erected and a stage was being prepared for a massive concert that will take place over Chol Hamoed.

Josh and Dov visited Tel Rumeida where the ancient city walls and homes have been uncovered from the time of Avraham and also went to Beit Hadassah where a Jews of Chevron were slaughtered by Arab rioters in 1929. There is now a memorial along with a museum detailing these attacks. Today, twenty-five Jewish families live in the Beit Hadassah complex.

The tour then went to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood and stopped in the Avraham Avinu Shul which had been destroyed in 1948 by the Arabs and turned into a goat and donkey pen. In 1989 the community and synagogue was rebuilt as a beautiful edifice.

At their last stop, Ma’arat HaMachpelah stories were told of how Avraham purchased the cave from Ephron as a burial site for Sarah and how Jews were not permitted to pray there for over 700 years until the city was liberated in 1967. The building is now “shared” with the Arabs and is only completely accessible to Jews for ten days a year where they can visit the Yitzhak hall, in which portals to the depths of the cave are found. Some of these days fall on Chol Hamoed Sukkot.

As we enter our Sukkot, our temporary homes, we must remember how important it is to continue to visit Jerusalem, Chevron and other places in Israel to ensure that they permanently remain in our hands.