Jewish Carpentry

“My boss is a Jewish carpenter” reads a popular American bumpersticker.  While Jesus was a Jew and apparently also a carpenter, Jews are not widely known for their carpentry skills.

Come each fall, we try to strut our stuff.  The holiday of Sukkot, which begins Friday night, is marked by the construction of little huts (ok, some around here are big!).  For an entire week (and eight days outside of Israel), Jews eat and sleep in these huts to signify the transience of life on this earth and to commemorate the “Clouds of Glory” of the divine presence that covered and protected the Jews in their deliverance from Egypt.

Because there is an idea of rushing to do mitzvot, many men begin to build their sukkot (the booths) as soon as the fast is over on Yom Kippur.  As I headed to bed with a happily fully belly, I could hear the dink, dink, dink of sukkah building.

Nowhere else do you really feel as much that it is the “Festival of Booths,” as you do in Jerusalem.  Sukkot clutter porches, yards and alleyways, and most restaurants and public areas have also built one, since men are obligated to eat all of their meals inside a sukkah.

I just bought my first set of arba minim, the “four species” which are shaken during prayer services.  They will not be shaken on the holiest first and last day, because they fall on Shabbat this year.  That means there are fewer opportunities to see what I think is one of the funniest Jewish rituals – shaking and thrusting a fruit and a bunch of branches in all directions.

An example of a sukkah outside of an apartment building in Jerusalem.

An example of a sukkah outside of an apartment building in Jerusalem.

Some people decorate with fruit.  Other decorate with rabbi photos.
Some people decorate with fruit. Others decorate with rabbis.
Lulav shaking at the kotel.  They wouldn't let me on the men's side, but my long arms can reach over the mechitzah...

Lulav shaking at the kotel. They wouldn't let me on the men's side, but my long arms can reach over the mechitzah...

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ilene

Ilene Rosenblum is a writer and marketing professional living in Jerusalem.

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