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You Know It's Sukkot in Jerusalem Because...
by Judy Lash Balint
Israel Insider
September 26, 2004

1. You can't get on a bus without being poked in the rear a dozen times with someone's stray lulav.

2. The sweet smell of etrogim in Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda (Yehuda Market) is overpowering. Huge crowds descend on the alleyway just outside the market to vie for the best lulav and etrog.

3. The largest, best-lit Sukkah in the world is being erected on the grounds of the Jerusalem Municipality at Safra Square. At 30 meters long, 16 meters wide and 6 meters tall, with 6.5 miles of electrical wiring and 144,000 mini light bulbs, the edifice is set to host Mayor Uri Lupolianski's Sukkot reception for diplomats, tourists and plain old Jerusalemites who want to see where their tax shekels are going.

4. An enterprising bookstore is offering "Machzor rentals" for tourists who inadvertently left their holiday prayerbooks at home.

5. You've never seen such gaudy sukkah decorations in your life---unless you've been to Wal Mart on Xmas eve. Kiosks manned by bearded Haredim in Meah Shearim are selling gold, green and red tinsel hangings---exact replicas of Xmas decorations in the Old Country.

6. Huge piles of schach (palm fronds for the roof of the sukkah) cover major city squares, and citizens are invited to take as much as they need for free.

7. Hotels report almost 100 percent occupancy as Israelis join foreign tourists in celebrating the week-long holiday.

8. Sukkot of every size and description can be seen on balconies, rooftops and in courtyards. Every kosher restaurant in town has one and boasts bigger and better holiday specials to entice customers.

9. Since the entire week of Sukkot is a national holiday you'll have a tough time deciding which festival/event to take part in. There's the New Age Bereishit Festival on the Kinneret; the Hillulim Wine Fest, Acco's Fringe Theater Festival and Bach Under The Stars in Binyamina, to name just a few.

10. Touring the country is another favorite Sukkot activity and every political group is promoting trips to "See For Yourself". Hevron is a perennial favorite for Chol Hamoed (intermediate festival days) but this year organized tours of threatened communities in Gush Katif and the northern Shomron are expecting hundreds of participants.

The IDF Rabbinate and the Israel Center will host busloads of visitors to join soldiers in the Sukkot at Army bases.

11. Not to be left out are those Christian friends of Israel--the International Christian Embassy will bring 4,000 members from 80 nations to attend the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration.

Prime Minister Sharon will address the gathering, which includes evangelical Christian leader Pat Robertson. The Christian contingent will take part in the Jerusalem March, another annual Sukkot event, dressed in costume of their countries of origin.

Organizers claim that the event will pump $10 million into the local economy, taking up 15,000 hotel room nights during their stay.

12. Another prominent group of tourists set to arrive arrive are refugees from the young frum singles scene who migrate to Jerusalem from the Upper West Side for Sukkot. Discreet meetings of earnest, well-scrubbed, modestly dressed twenty-somethings take place in all the major hotel lobbies.

May we all experience the true joy of Sukkot and merit to see the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash.