31 May 2020 - 8 Sivan 5780 - ח' סיון ה' אלפים תש"פ
The Festival of Sukkot for all the family E-mail

The festival of Sukkot is a joyous occassion which is celebrated for seven days. The festival falls on 15 Tishrei, five days after Yom Kippur.

The festival has many other names such as the ‘Festival of Booths’, and is referenced in Book of Leviticus: “You will dwell in booths for seven days; all natives of Israel shall dwell in booths.” (23:42). Also in the Book of Exodus (23:16) as the ‘Feast of Ingathering’. The holiday was also referred to as the ‘Season of our Rejoicing.’

Like the festivals of Pesach and Shavuot, Sukkot has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif (in Hebrew), the Festival of Ingathering. During Temple times, families would go to the Temple to offer thanks for their fall harvests.

Our main obligation during the festival is to build a Sukkah, a temporary hut where we traditionally eat and sleep. The Sukkah symbolises the temporary huts that our ancestors lived in during the forty years they wandered in the desert.

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Excavations reveal 2,000-year-old stone-vessel quarry E-mail

Arare workshop for the production of chalkstone vessels, dated to the Roman period, is currently being excavated at Reina in Lower Galilee, Israel.

Excavations are unearthing a small cave in which archaeologists have found thousands of chalkstone cores and other types of production waste, including fragments of stone mugs and bowls in various stages of production. The discovery provides fascinating evidence of the central place of ritual purity in the daily lives of Galilean Jews during the time of Jesus.

The ancient site was uncovered during the course of construction work at a municipal sports centre conducted by the Reina local council. This is the fourth workshop of its kind ever to have been uncovered in Israel; an additional workshop is currently being excavated near Reina, located one kilometre from the current site. The two remaining known sites were uncovered decades ago far to the south, in the Jerusalem area.

According to Dr Yonatan Adler, Senior Lecturer at Ariel University and director of the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “In ancient times, most tableware, cooking pots and storage jars were made of pottery. In the first century of the Common Era, however, Jews throughout Judea and Galilee also used tableware and storage vessels made of soft, local chalkstone.”

As Adler explained, the reason for this curious choice of material seems to have been religious. “According to ancient Jewish ritual law, vessels made of pottery are easily made impure and must be broken. Stone, on the other hand, was thought to be a material which can never become ritually impure, and as a result ancient Jews began to produce some of their everyday tableware from stone. Although chalkstone vessels are well-known at many Jewish sites throughout the country, it is extremely unusual to uncover a site where such vessels where actually produced. Today we are excavating a second site near Reina, located one kilometre from here. Until today, only two other similar sites have been excavated, however both of these were in the area of Jerusalem. Our excavations are highlighting the pivotal role of ritual purity observance not only in Jerusalem but in far-off Galilee as well.”

The excavations have revealed an artificially hewn cave from which ancient workers quarried the raw material for the chalkstone vessels. Ancient chisel marks cover the walls, ceiling and floor of the cave. Inside the cave and on the ground nearby are strewn thousands of stone cores, the ancient industrial waste from stone mugs and bowls produced on a lathe. Hundreds of unfinished vessels were also found, apparently damaged during the production process and discarded on-site.

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Yom Kippur – our fate is sealed E-mail

Yom Kippur the Day of Atonememt is the most holiest day of the Jewish year. The day falls on 10 Tishrei, which is ten days after Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year.

The ten days between the two Jewish holidays are meant to be days of awe and deep introspection. On Yom Kippur, G-d seals our fate for the coming year. The entire day is spent fasting and praying to G-d for forgiveness and a good year ahead. We refrain from work, fast and attend synagogue services.

It is a day set aside to “afflict the soul,” to atone for the sins of the past year. This day is, essentially, our last appeal and our last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate our repentance and make amends so we may be sealed in the book of life.

Yom Kippur atones not only for sins between man and G-d, but also for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, one must first seek reconciliation with that person and righting the wrongs committed against them if possible. This is best done before Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur appears in the following verses in the Torah. “In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and you shall not do any work... For on that day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins before the L-rd.” Leviticus 16:29-30.

Observance to Fast

We refrain from eating any food or drink on Yom Kippur. The 25-hour fast begins before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ends after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The Talmud also specifies additional restrictions such as: washing and bathing, anointing one’s body (with cosmetics, deodorants), wearing leather shoes, and engaging in sexual relations.

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