On Sunday, in anticipation of the Jewish holday Sukkot, volunteers, community members and residents of Jewish Home Lifecare facility on West 106th came together to create decorations that will adorn the indoor and outdoor Sukkahs.
“There really aren’t parameters, we just wanted to be festive. We allowed people’s creativity to guide them,” said Miraim Levi, the director of community life activities at JHL. “It was beautiful to see some of our residents strike up conversations with the kids who were a little shy, passing on the tradition of goodwill in our community and respecting and honoring our elders.”
Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, is a Biblical holiday celebrated on September 19th. The holiday lasts seven days. The Sukkah is a walled structure with a thatched roof in order to see the stars, decorated with plant material, fruits and other adornments – built for the celebration – and is intended to be a reminiscence of the type of dwelling in which the Israelites stayed during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the exodus from slavery in Egypt.
Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the Sukkah. On each day, members of the household recite a blessing over the lulav and etrog (four species). The four species include the lulav (a ripe green, closed frond from a date palm tree), the hadass (boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree), the aravah (branches with leaves from the willow tree) and the etrog (the fruit of a citron tree.) As the official “Holiday of our Rejoicing” it is celebrated with much dancing, many parties, and numerous enjoyable activities, in and out of the Sukkah.
Sunday’s event was sponsored by the UJA-Federation of New York on the Upper West Side, along with Jewish Home Lifecare, in order to get the community involved with the holiday and the elder residents.
“This is our second annual Sukkah decorating; last year we had 30 attendess and yesterday we had over 50,” said Lori Kolinsky, director of the Manhattan division at UJA-Federation. “My son is 3, and when I brought him I told him we were going to do a mitzvah. Some [of the participants] were Jewish, some were not, but it was just brinigng spirit and life into the home. Everybody came together at the end of the project to decorate the Sukkah.”
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