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You Know It's Sukkot In Israel Because.....
by Judy Lash Balint
September 19, 2002

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.

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

4. You've never seen such gaudy sukkah decorations in your life---unless you've been to Woolworth's on Xmas eve. Kiosks manned by bearded Haredim in Meah Shearim are selling gold, green and red tinsel hangings.

5. 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.

6. Vacationing Israelis will fill the hotels to compensate for the massive drop in foreign tourism.

7. 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.

8. 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 a Carlebach lovefest at Mevo Modi'in; a Judaica and Jewelery Show in Jerusalem; the Zikhron Yaakov wine fest; a Humor and Laughter Festival in BeerSheva; an Israeli Cowboy Festival at Neve Yaar and a Reggae extravaganza at the Caesarea Amphitheater to name just a few.

9. 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) and this year is no exception. Hasidic singing sensation Mordechai Ben David will entertain the faithful on the second intermediate day.

10. Not to be left out are those Christian friends of Israel--the International Christian Embassy predicts that thousands of members from 100 nations will attend the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is featured speaker for the opening night gala at Sultan's Pools. The Christian contingent will be taking part in the Jerusalem March, another annual Sukkot event, dressed in costume of their countries of origin.

11. One group of tourists who will still arrive despite security fears, are refugees from the young frum singles scene who've migrated to Jerusalem from the Upper West Side for Sukkot. Discreet meetings of earnest, well-scrubbed, modestly dressed twenty-somethings may be observed 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.