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Sukkot: The holiday of harvest and thanksgiving

In THE DEADLIEST SPORT, Gershon greets Miriam with “I hope you had an inspiring Sukkot (Feast of Booths).” Sukkot is a week-long biblical (Leviticus 23:39 to 23:43) Jewish holiday beginning on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei, sometime between late September and late October. Jews commemorate the time our ancestors lived in temporary shelters, sukkot or booths, as they journeyed through the dessert from Egypt to the Land of Israel.

The holiday comes at the height of the harvest season, when farmers in the past built sukkot in their fields to spend the night close to their crops and maximize the hours of reaping.

A sukkah (singular for sukkot) can be made of any material but according to Jewish practice the roof must be made of a natural material (such as branches or bamboo) with enough gaps so that the sky is visible to the people inside. Rabbinic law encourages Jews to live, sleep, and eat in the sukkah for all seven days of the festival, weather permitting. Most modern Jews do not actually sleep in the sukkah; it is used instead as a special outdoor dwelling place for dining together with family and friends. Of all the Jewish holidays, Sukkot is the only one whose date does not seem to commemorate an historic event.

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