Joining Jews around the world, members of the Chabad of Merrick-Bellmore-Wantagh celebrated Sukkot, the Jewish festival of booths, from Sept. 18 to 25. Congregants capped the festivities with a barbecue and festival in the Chabad’s sukkah in Merrick.
Sukkot, referred to as the holiday of rejoicing, comes five days after the more solemn Yom Kippur. During the eight-day holiday, Jewish families leave their homes and take their meals in temporary huts called sukkahs.
Chabad officials explained that the temporary sukkah booths emphasize how the world and the Jewish people rely on God’s protection. They added that another unique holiday practice is gathering etrog, a citrus fruit with a strong, sweet smell, a lulav palm branch, and twigs from the willow tree and myrtle bush.
“Drawing from the gravity of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Sukkot gives Jews all over the world the chance to celebrate the sweetness of nature and to thank God for his protection,” Rabbi Shimon Kramer said. “Sukkot touches all five senses: the sweet smell of the etrog, the feel of the palm branch and twigs in your hand, the sights and sounds of the Sukkah around us, and the taste of the festival’s feasts.”
Chabad brought its celebration to the Merrick Fall Festival, during which Kramer and others helped the community observe the holiday. Fairgoers could stop by the Chabad booth for a quick bite and to do a customary shake of the lulav and etrog.
At the end of the holiday, Chabad welcomed Jewish people from all three communities to their sukkah in Merrick for a barbecue. The organization provided activities for children, including flag decorating and crafts and the chance to juggle or play on inflatable castle bouncers. All attendees were welcome at the buffet.