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Yom Kippur 5781 and Sukkot

Dear reader, if you have been visiting our site earlier already: Our article about Yom Kippur was part of the New Year Seder article before, which lead to some misunderstandings, so we now split it in two.

Of course we celebrated Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement in a modern way but in accordance with Jewish traditions. We met in the digital space and that way we have been close despite the physical distance. Also on that day, Batja joined us.

Yom Kippur is a day of fast on which many jews don’t eat for 25 hours – if that does not endanger their health, as health always is more important than these rites and rules.

15 days after the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah and 5 days after Yom Kippur is the beginning of Sukkot (Festival of Shelters). It reminds us of the exodus of our ancestors from Egypt, the long trek through the desert, the sleepovers in makeshift huts.

To symbolise the fugacity of material wealth, Jews build huts under the open sky, wherever there is room for it: In the garden, in the backyard, on the balcony or the terrace.

Notable: Through the roof of the hut (Sukkah) it should be possible to see the stars. In Israel and in other warm countries the Sukkah is the family home for one week for many Jewish families. In colder areas, families meet on the Sukkot days for dinner. Every guest is welcome in the Sukkah as it says in Deuteronomy: “You shall rejoice in your festival, with your son and daughter, […] the stranger […] in your communities”.

An additional symbol for the festival is the bouquet. It is made of a branch from the date palm, three myrtle and two basket willow branches as well as a citrus fruit, the Etrog. The reason for combining these four plants very likely is the diversity they represent. In the bouquet, those plants are unified. They symbolise the unity of the Jewish people and the mutual responsibility of human beings for each other.

These two symbols of Sukkot are very modern for our Progressive Jewish Congregation Michelsberg.

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