This never happened last year

Today’s riddle: what has fifteen metal poles, eight wooden poles, and two rolls of bamboo matting? Our succah! The lockdown put and end to the holiday we had planned for Sukkot, so we’re at home and getting ready for this family focused festival without, er, the family. First step is getting the succah up and I am glad to report it’s all up and ready to go.

(We had one or two hiccups along the way, but finally we worked out which pole went where. Despite keeping the instructions, it was more challenging than I would have liked. This year I’m definitely taking pictures to remind me how it is constructed!)

In Scotland, you could virtually guarantee it would rain first night of Sukkot. It can happen in Israel, but not this year according to the forecasts. Apparently it’s going to be hot.

That was the chag that was

So how was Sukkot for you?

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We had a very pleasant break in Eilat before heading to Shosh and Michael Horesh’s for Simchat Torah.

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On the night of Simchat Torah, Michael and I went to a Bnei Akivah minyan. When it came to the hakafot, the young lads did only two before heading off to do a tour of other shuls and to complete their hakafot. (A hakafot crawl! Cool!)

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For schacharit, we went back to the same minyan. As they follow the sephardi tradition they do not do Yizkor. So, we joined in an ashkenazi minyan elsewhere for that prayer. It’s still the strangest part of being Jewish in Israel for me. You go from the heights of joy to the depths of remembering lost loved ones. From dreams to memories.

Eventually the melancholy mood passed, as always, and we could all take in that the chagim were just about over. That is also worth celebrating.

Be well one and all.

Just like old times

It was just like old times, back in Glasgow. But here we are in Israe. First night of Sukkot, first meal in the Succah. Wind. Rain. (Rain? Yes, rain!) Glory, glory it felt great. But I don’t think the local born Israelis were too impressed.  However, it does suggest the Big Man Upstairs has a sense of humor.

Chag Sameach!

Chag Sameach!

Sukkot starts tonight. I’m trying to take a wee break, anyway, but this is a welcome extension of that. Although not politically correct to say so, this is one of my favorite chagim. In Glasgow it frequently marked the start of the heavy rain. Not quite the same here!

All being well, I may be back posting on Thursday night.

Chag Sameach!

It’s a funny old car park

Here, many people build a sukkah for Sukkot. But not everyone has enough space. For example, in blocks of flats – especially those with small balconies – it is not unusual for there to be a communal sukkah.

We have enough space, but some of our neighbours are not so fortunate. Not for them the communal solution. Oh no.

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Instead, they have taken the ‘let’s use the car park‘ approach. Interesting.

What the picture does not show you is the sign that the sukkah obscures. It’s a ‘No Parking‘ sign. Do you think it applies to a sukkah? Clearly the sukkah builders don’t think so!

I’ll try and sort out pictures of our own sukka, soon.

Health, safety, and Sukkot

The following article, from the Jerusalem Post, sheds a different light on Sukkot. (And you thought it was all fun and games…) It’s sensible advice with no surprises. But let’s just say that health and safety is not a doctrine (or belief system?) that Israelis seem to completely comprehend. Or follow. Anyway, where else in the world do you need to be wary of being stabbed by palm fronds?

Succot festivities pose their own risks

Already last week, a man in his 30s fell down two meters, hurt his head and his limbs while building his succa.

Not long after many hundreds of people fainted, suffered from dehydration and were hurt on empty roads on Yom Kippur, Magen David Adom medics have been busy treating people who have fallen from ladders while building their booths for Succot, which begins on Wednesday evening.

In addition, medics are preparing for overtime in giving first aid to hikers and others who will be spending their time outdoors during the seven-day festival.

Last week, a man in his 30s fell 2 meters while building his succa, sustaining moderate injuries to his head and limbs.

He was taken to Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem.

To prevent such injuries, people are advised to keep young children away during the construction of the succa; to strengthen the structures’ sides so they won’t collapse; and to pay special attention to wooden walls that are heavy and have nails and screws sticking out.

MDA will have three helicopters, including one in Eilat and the rest of the South, at its disposal for rescues.

Other safety advice includes not climbing on balcony railings or on unstable ladders, and ensuring that the leaf or bamboo succa coverings are held down well so the pieces do not fly away and hit passersby.

Palm fronds have sharp needles that can hurt hands, so those handling them should wear heavy work gloves. In addition, one should make sure that dangerous insects are not hiding among the leaves.

When installing electrical connections, one should not leave wires and outlets exposed.

Another sign of the holiday is the Four Species markets that are often set up at roadsides, and people should make sure that children who come along to purchase these items are always under parental supervision, aren’t hurt by traffic and don’t go missing.

When going on treks, one should make sure to bring plenty of food and water, sunscreen, light and long-sleeved clothing and broad-brimmed hats. It is important to wear high-topped shoes – never sandals – to prevent snake- and scorpion bites, and to tell children not to move rocks where such creatures may be lurking

So, remember, be careful out there!

[Thanks to Susan for the tip.]

Catching up on Sukkot

Better late than never (by me, that is), go here for a nice look at Erev Sukkot in Jerusalem this year, by The Real Jerusalem Streets blog. Well worth a visit to get a flavor of the festival, and see (as the blog says) the real Jerusalem.

Bonus: the site also has a good piece here about Birchat Kohanim (Blessing by the Kohanim) during the intermediate days of Sukkot.

Sukkot

Yes, it’s Sukkot. I was too busy to blog before the start of the festival, but it happened anyway.

Want to know something funny about this year’s Sukkot? When I lived in Glasgow, Sukkot marked the start of the real rainy season. Almost without fail, the first night in the Sukkah was a wet one. A very wet one.

This year in Israel, we got our first rain of the season on the afternoon before Sukkot. (It was only a tinkle, but it was still rain.) That is very unusual for this part of the world. Do you think somebody is trying to tell us anything?

Chag Sameach!