Beginning five days after Yom Kippur, Sukkot is named after the booths or huts (sukkot in Hebrew) in which Jews are supposed to dwell during this week-long celebration.
Beginning five days after Yom Kippur, Sukkot is named after the booths or huts (sukkot in Hebrew) in which Jews are supposed to dwell during this week-long celebration. According to rabbinic tradition, these flimsy sukkot represent the huts in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after escaping from slavery in Egypt. The festival of Sukkot is one of the three great pilgrimage festivals (chaggim or regalim) of the Jewish year.
The origins of Sukkot are found in an ancient autumnal harvest festival. Indeed it is often referred to as hag ha-asif, “The Harvest Festival.” Much of the imagery and ritual of the holiday revolves around rejoicing and thanking God for the completed harvest. The sukkah represent the huts that farmers would live in during the last hectic period of harvest before the coming of the winter rains. As is the case with other festivals whose origins may not have been Jewish, the Bible reinterpreted the festival to imbue it with a specific Jewish meaning. In this manner, Sukkot came to commemorate the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert after the revelation at Mount Sinai, with the huts representing the temporary shelters that the Israelites lived in during those 40 years.
Sukkot At Home
Many of the most popular rituals of Sukkot are practiced in the home. As soon after the conclusion of Yom Kippur as possible, often on the same evening, one is enjoined to begin building the sukkah, or hut, that is the central symbol of the holiday. The sukkah is a flimsy structure with at least three sides, whose roof is made out of thatch or branches, which provides some shade and protection from the sun, but also allows the stars to be seen at night. It is traditional to decorate the sukkah and to spend as much time in it as possible. Weather permitting, meals are eaten in the sukkah, and the hardier among us may also elect to sleep in the sukkah. In a welcoming ceremony called ushpizin, ancestors are symbolically invited to partake in the meals with us. And in commemoration of the bounty of the Holy Land, we hold and shake four species of plants (arba minim), consisting of palm, myrtle, and willow (lulav), together with citron (etrog).
Sukkot In the Community
As with all festivals, services play an important role in the communal celebration of Sukkot. In addition to special festival readings, including Psalms of Praise (Hallel), on Sukkot additional prayers are included in the service asking God to save us (hoshana, from which we get the English word hosanna). During the Hoshana prayers, congregants march around the synagogue sanctuary holding the lulav and etrog. The seventh and last day of the festival is called Hoshanah Rabba, the “Great Hoshana.”
Hol Hamoed (Intermediate Days) Sukkot
During the intermediate days of Sukkot, one is allowed to pursue normal activity. One is nonetheless supposed to hold and wave the lulav and etrog on a daily basis, eat one’s meals in the sukkah, and continue to dwell in the sukkah for the remainder of the holiday.
Sukkot Theology and Themes
The enforced simplicity of eating and perhaps also living in a temporary shelter focuses our minds on the important things in life and divorces us from the material possessions of the modern world that dominate so many of our lives. Even so, Sukkot is a joyful holiday and justifiably referred to as zeman simchateynu, the “season of our joy.”
The Services will be conducted in the Sukkah
Tuesday, September 21
Sukkot 1st Day. 10:00 AM
Wednesday, September 22
Sukkot 2nd Day. 10:00 AM
Saturday, September 25
Shabbat Chol Hamoed. 10:00 AM
Sunday, September 26
Musical Concert. 3:00 PM
Tuesday, September 28
Shemini Atzeret-Yizkor. 10:00 AM
Services in the Chapel
Tuesday, September 28
Erev Simchat Torah. 6:30 PM
Wednesday, September 29
Dear Congregation and Friends,
I had the pleasure and duty to attend a very powerful Interfaith Rally against Anti-Semitism held at the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach this evening June 3rd. This rally was sponsored by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation with more than 65 participating organizations and Synagogues coming together as a unified community against fear, hatred, violence, racism and particularly Anti-Semitism. Several elected Miami Dade officials spoke brilliantly especially our own Mayor of Miami Beach Dan Gelber, who took the time to discuss privately the current political situation in Israel with me. The new Israeli Consul to Miami also spoke very well to a crowd of well over 2,000.
Am Yisrael Chai!!
Rabbi Stephen Texon
Dear Congregational Family and Friends,
Yesterday 5/26/21, our Executive Director, Becky Cohen and I on invitation, had the great pleasure to meet with Congresswoman Maria E. Salazar and staff. A large gathering of other local Rabbis were present together with many representatives of Jewish partner organizations which took part in a very productive and passionate discussion on the urgency of joining forces and uniting in strong support of Israel, combatting antisemitism and racial division. It was extremely gratifying to hear Congresswoman Salazar’s rock solid support of Israel and Judaism expressing that we are “the chosen people” and what that means. She asked for a timeline of all the recent antisemitic acts in this country and around the world since the start of the Gaza War that she plans to present before the Congress. It was truly energizing to be present and to feel the solidarity and determination of all!!
… and the Journey Continues
As April, begins, we are concluding our most transformative time of Passover. We celebrate breaking out of the narrow confines of slavery to experience the journey of the wilderness. The seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot, which commemorates the receiving of the Ten Commandments, are meant to remind us of a spiritual journey that leads to commitment, promise and special relationship with God. The journey includes many challenges, and the destination – The Promise Land – provide even more challenges. Our journeys continually offers us way to grow in our knowledge, our spiritual well-being, and our commitment to making the world a better place, day by day.
The modern calendar is trying to remind us that we still have a long way to travel. We continue to remember the harsh times when enemies, Ancient Egypt, the Crusaders or Nazi Germany, seek to destroy us. And we continue to celebrate our persistent resilience, maintaining strength despite the challenges. We stand to remember; we stand to celebrate; and we continue our journey to preserve our identity. It isn’t always easy, it isn’t supposed to be. It requires dedication, commitment and learning. Survival demands us to fulfill traditions and create new ones and make our time enjoyable and stimulating. With every hurdle we jump over, a new challenge can get in our way. The challenges make life exciting, and our ability to preserve energizes us to re-creating new ways to be touched by deep meanings.
Cuban Hebrew Congregation of Miami, Inc.
Cuban Hebrew Congregation of Miami, Inc. 1700 Michigan Avenue Miami Beach, FL 33139 US
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