Celebrating Sukkot in Israel 2023: A Festival of Joy and Tradition

Is Sukkot Eve a Public Holiday?

First things first: Is Sukkot Eve a public holiday in Israel? In 2023, Sukkot Eve will occur on Friday, September 29. Contrary to some expectations, it’s not a public holiday and most businesses will maintain their regular operating hours. So, you can still accomplish those last-minute tasks before the festival kicks off!

The Essence of Sukkot

Regarded as one of the happiest times in the Jewish calendar, Sukkot arrives 15 days after Rosh Hashanah and just five days after Yom Kippur. This dual-natured festival marks both a time for harvesting and a commemoration of the Israelites’ 40-year journey through the desert to the Promised Land. In bygone times, pilgrims would flock to Jerusalem, carrying fruits and other offerings for sacrifices at the temple.

The preparations for Sukkot, or the Feast of Booths, are noticeable throughout Israel. The sounds of hammers and drills echo across neighborhoods as people build sukkot, the temporary dwellings that serve as a focal point of the holiday. It’s a seven-day affair, culminating in Simchat Torah—a jubilant day that celebrates the completion of the annual Torah reading cycle.

Understanding the Four Species

One of the most iconic aspects of Sukkot is the ritual involving the Four Species or ‘Arba Minim’ in Hebrew. The Four Species consist of the etrog (a citron fruit), lulav (a frond of a date palm), hadas (myrtle), and aravah (willow). These elements are held together and waved in all directions to thank God for the harvest and symbolize unity. Each of the Four Species is said to represent different types of people and the unity that can be achieved when they come together.

The Four Species Market

In Israel, especially in places like Valero Square in Jerusalem, you’ll find markets dedicated entirely to the Four Species just ahead of Sukkot. These markets are bustling centers of activity, offering not only the Four Species but also a plethora of decorations to adorn your sukkah. These markets are so quintessentially Israeli that they’re a cultural experience in themselves.

Sukkot in Jerusalem: An Explosion of Activities

Sukkot in Jerusalem is a bustling, vibrant affair. The city comes alive with various activities:

  • Ice Skating at the First Station: A state-of-the-art facility that offers family-friendly fun.
  • Holiday-Themed Workshops and Museums: Keep an eye out for special events that offer a deeper understanding of the holiday’s significance.

Celebrating Across Israel

While Jerusalem is a focal point, Sukkot celebrations are nationwide. The days between the first and last day of Sukkot are semi-regular business days, allowing many Israelis to take half-days or full days off to celebrate with family.

Tel Aviv’s Own Flavor

  • Sarona Market: This bustling market transforms into a hub for Sukkot shopping, complete with Rabbinate representatives who can guide you on the quality of Four Species.
  • Israel Museum: During Sukkot week, the museum offers free entrance for children and hosts various holiday-centric activities.

Enjoying the Great Outdoors

The festival’s outdoor orientation makes Sukkot an ideal time for tourists to explore Israel’s natural wonders. Restaurants, bars, and cafes across the country set up their own sukkot, often bedecked with palm leaves or bamboo, offering a unique dining experience.

Plan Ahead: The Importance of Fast-Track Airport Services

Sukkot is a popular festival that sees a surge in activity and tourism. Therefore, it’s advisable to plan your activities and make your reservations well in advance. Whether you’re an Israeli local or a foreign visitor, the festival offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in traditions that date back thousands of years.

As the influx of travelers is expected to increase, planning ahead extends to your airport experience as well. Ben Gurion Airport, being the main international gateway into Israel, is especially busy during the holiday season. To ensure a smooth and stress-free entry or exit, consider booking a VIP fast-track service. This service will expedite your journey through security and customs, offering a hassle-free start or end to your holiday. Given the demand during Sukkot, it’s strongly recommended to book these services in advance to secure your spot.

Sukkot in Israel is not just a holiday; it’s an experience that engraves itself onto your soul. Make your travel as smooth as possible by planning every detail, including your time at the airport. Come and be a part of this amazing celebration!

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