(September 23, 2018 / JNS) U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman wished the Jewish people a happy Sukkot holiday on Sunday, thanking an Israeli farm for allowing him to pluck his own etrog this year.
“To all those observing Sukkot, we wish you a joyous holiday,” Friedman wrote on Twitter. “After the intensity of the High Holidays, what a blessing to gather at a festival earmarked for happiness and celebration. Thanks to Kfar Chabad, this was the first year I cut an etrog from the tree. Chag Sameach!”
Sukkot, the Feast of Booths, commemorates the Jewish people’s sojourns in the desert of Sinai before arriving in the Land of Israel after the exodus from Egypt, and is one of three biblically mandated pilgrimage holidays to Jerusalem. It is also an agricultural holiday, during which the Jewish people brought first fruits to the Temple.
The holiday is marked by the building of sukkahs (“huts” or “booths”) in which Jews live, eat and sometimes even sleep for the duration of the holiday. The mitzvahs associated with Sukkot include reciting prayers while shaking the “Four Species” or “Four Kinds”: the lulav (a palm frond), willow branches (aravot) and myrtle branches (hadassim) bound together, holding an etrog (citron), as prescribed in the book of Leviticus. It is also custom to eat something inside the sukkah.
The eight-day holiday of Sukkot (seven days in Israel) begins on the evening of Sept. 23.