Beginning five days after Yom Kippur and lasting for seven, Sukkot is a harvest festival. In order to commemorate the forty years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, practicing Jews construct booths or sukkah outside the synagogue and the house. Sukkot were, ideally, to be constructed of gathered branches and decorated with harvest fruits. The roof, if it had one at all, was to be porous enough to allow the sky to be visible. Traditionally, meals were taken in the sukkah and some people chose to sleep in them as well. European Jews demonstrated extraordinary ingenuity in creating sukkot in urban environments, and artists were equally imaginative in seeking to represent their role in Jewish life.
The other symbols of this holiday are the lulav and etrog. Lulavim are dried palm branches attached to sprigs of myrtle and willow, while etrogim are citrons, a lemon-like member of the citrus family. In the various depictions of Sukkot, garlands of etrogim can be seen decorating the booths and being used to celebrate the holiday in a London synagogue.
Simchat Torah, the holiday celebrating the conclusion and recommencing of the annual reading cycle of the Torah (the five books of Moses), marks the end of the fall ritual cycle. The synagogue is the locus for the celebration of this holiday, during which the Torah scrolls are held aloft, paraded through the synagogue, and often transformed for the moment into dancing partners.
|4. Das Lauberhütten fest. Paul Christian Kirchner. Jüdisches Ceremoniel, oder, Beschreibung dererjenigen Gebräuche. Nürnberg: Peter Conrad Monath, 1724.|