|A soldier with the Daled Minim on Sukkos|
Sukkos in Israel is a real treat for me. Israel is truly the best place in the world to feel you are a member of Klal Yisroel. The spirit of Yom Tov pervades every segment of society here, from the extremist Charedi to the extremist Chiloni. Everyone knows its Sukkos. That is the way it is for every one of the Shalosh Regalim (the three Jewish holidays mentioned in the Torah).
Israel is the one place in the world where one’s Judaism is palpable. One is immersed in it here this time of year. From Magidei Shiur on the radio to secular disc jockeys... everyone wishes all their listeners ‘Chag Sameach’ - ‘Happy Holiday’. Even the Coke bottles are specially decorated and have the words Chag Sameach printed on their labels!
It is the equivalent of Christmas time in the US…. where the focus of just about everyone and every thing is about that holiday. If as a Jew one feels a bit out of place in the US at that time…. the exact opposite is true here on Sukkos.
In a place like Ramat Bet Shemesh where I am staying – virtually everyone is busy either building their Sukkahs, buying their Daled Minim (i.e. the Lulav, Esrog, Haddasim, and Aravos), or shopping for Yom Tov . Charedim… Datim… Chardalim… it doesn’t make any difference everyone is doing the same thing.
With all the factionalism and divisiveness that takes place here on an all too regular basis, Yom Tov s is the great equalizer... the one thing that actually says, ‘We are one people!’
I know that this is still far from the Achdus that I would love to see happen someday. I would even say that the Jews of Israel are - religiously - the most divided people in the world. And yet I can’t help feeling that being Jewish in the holy land with all of us celebrating the same Jewish time of year that - one way or another - at least at some basic level there is a sense of Achdus. That gives me hope for the future.