Members of Altrincham Interfaith Group were invited to attend a Sukkot ‘L’Chayim’ (drinks and nibbles) in the home and sukkah of Lucille Cohen, President of The Jewish Representative Council.
Sukkot is the Jewish harvest festival of Tabernacles and the sukkah (booth/tabernacle) commemorates the biblical temporary dwellings used by the Children of Israel following their Exodus from Egypt.)
The significance of the festival was explained to us by Lucille’s granddaughter Hannah who said :-
“The word Sukkot means huts. Building a hut is the way we celebrate this festival. It says in Leviticus in the Bible “You shall live in booths 7 days. All citizens in Israel shall live in booths in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt”. On top of the sukkah is sechach; sechach is (made of) leaves or bamboo sticks woven together and then put on the roof. You have to be able to see stars through the sechach. A lot of people decorate the sukkah by making pictures and dangling paper chains from wall to wall to make it feel like home. Boys over 13 have to try, if the weather is okay, to sleep in the sukkah with sleeping bags to also make it feel like home. If it starts raining we have to do the blessing on the wine and blessing on the bread and if it is still raining by the time we want to start the meal then we may go inside the house to eat it. I hope that gives you an idea all about the sukkah and Sukkot.”
We gathered in the sukkah where Lucille said the blessings on wine and food and we all enjoyed these. Later, a Hindu lady from Mumbai, Anupama, sang some songs for us and the Jewish participants sang a Hebrew biblical verse which translated as : “Behold, how goodly and pleasant it is to sit as brothers together”.
The whole event was a delight and gave people from several faiths and interfaith groups the chance to meet and enjoy this Jewish festival.