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Sukkot in Jerusalem!
October 06, 2014

Happy New Year!

Jerusalem celebrated Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, twelve ago, fasted through Yom Kippur last Saturday, and is now gearing up for that most joyful of holidays: Sukkot – zman simchateinu – the season of our rejoicing. This year, it is happening on October 8 - 17.

Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, is often described as the original Thanksgiving holiday. It commemorates the Divine Protection enjoyed by the Children of Israel during their wanderings through the desert after the exodus from Egypt.

Traditionally, Jews celebrate by building booths in which they eat and sleep for the duration of this week-long holiday. The booths are called sukkot (one sukkah, two sukkot). An assortment of other rituals and tradition embellish the holiday.

What is Sukkos really all about? To learn more about this happy holiday, check out the Sukkos website.

In Israel, the entire country is on vacation and in Jerusalem, it feels like everyone takes to the outdoors to party, play and celebrate for a week.

Come to Jerusalem for the season of our rejoicing and here’s a sample of what you can expect next week:

Open Scavenger Hunts

First off, book now if you want a spot on one of the "open" Scavenger Hunts during Chol Hamo'ed - the intervening days of Sukkot. This is our top-rated group activity in Jerusalem, so don't miss this chance to participate in a fun and extremely educational discovery of Jerusalem neighborhoods - or of Gush Etzion, if you have access to a car. More details here ...

Priestly Blessing

The priestly blessing is said every day in Israel (except in the Galilee), but during the intermediate days of Sukkot and Passover, it has become a custom to have a mass priestly gathering bless the enormous crowds at the Western Wall. This is a unique Jerusalem experience – don’t miss it!

This year, it takes place as the Western Wall on Sunday, Oct. 12. The Old City will be closed to traffic during Sukkot, so you’ll have to walk – along with what seems like half the country. Morning prayers are scheduled to begin at 8:15 a.m. so expect the Priestly Blessing to take place around 9:30 am and again at about 10:30 a.m.

Visit the World’s Largest Sukkah

The sukkah at Safra Square is billed as the world’s biggest one. True or not, it is quite an impressive size, and there are lots of activities going on in and around it, including all sorts of workshops for kids and various performances.

Simchat Beit Hashoevah for Women

A simchat beit hashoevah is the ultimate Sukkot party – lots of music and hours of dancing. Almost every synagogue in Jerusalem will be having one. Typically, men dance and women gather to watch.

Thanks to Tof Miriam, a non-profit organization that supports Israeli women in the arts, women can also find simchat beit hashoevah events where they can dance, too. These events have become a Sukkos tradition where mothers and daughters, groups of teenagers and grandmas of all political and religious stripes come together to dance and celebrate. Tof Miriam’s flagship band, Tofa’ah, an all-women rock/jazz group, will be performing live. (You can check out the band and its music here or download their biggest radio hit ever for free - and legally, too! - here.)

The party is Sunday, October 12, at 2 Torah VeAvoda Street, Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem, at 8:00 p.m. Admission is free.

There’s nothing quite like these events anywhere else – many women report the Tofa’ah simchat beit hashoevah concerts to be one of their favorite memories of Jerusalem, so – if you’re female – don’t miss this opportunity.

(Gentlemen, every other simchat beit hashoeva in town is for you, so simply wander through the neighborhoods of Meah She’arim and Geula in the evenings of Oct 11 – 14 and follow the music!)

The Jerusalem March

On Tuesday, Oct. 14, many Jerusalemites will take to the streets for the Jerusalem March – a parade down the center of town that draws thousands of Christian pilgrims from all over the world. There will be arts, crafts, live shows, performance artists and children’s activities at Sacher Park to kick off the march, which begins at 10:00 am and lasts until 3:00 pm.

If you were planning any other daytime activity on Tuesday – don’t go into town, because most major streets will be closed for the parade.

Your Prayers in the Wall

Don't forget that we are here to deliver your prayers to the Western Wall in Jerusalem for you. (Your prayers are strictly confidential and are deleted from our system as soon as they are delivered to the Wall.)

This is a free service that we consider a privilege to provide. Jewish tradition, however, teaches that prayer and charity, together, have the power to change Divine decrees. So please consider super-charging your prayer with a donation to our charity fund for disabled children in Jerusalem. Your donation, however small, will help provide much needed services, therapy and medications for severely disabled children in Jerusalem and, we hope, will make their holiday a little brighter..

May you have a wonderful holiday - chag same'akh!

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