Israel Prepares for Sukkot Holiday Under COVID-19 Restrictions

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Photo by Eitan Elhadez-Barak/TPS on 30 September, 2020

By TPS • 1 October, 2020

Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, will be subdued and limited this year in Israel due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The country will remain under a full lockdown during the seven-day holiday of Sukkot, which will begin on Friday night.

The holiday’s special prayer services, which are recited while marching with the Four Species, the Lulav, a closed frond from a palm tree, Hadasim, three boughs from the myrtle tree, Aravot, two branches from the willow tree and Etrog, the fruit of a citron tree, will be held outside synagogues and only in small groups.

The traditional Birkat Kohanim, the special mass priestly blessing, which is usually attended by tens of thousands, will be held in only a very limited fashion and will not be open to the public.

The government voted on Wednesday to approve a prohibition on entering another person’s place of residence, including a visit inside someone else’s Sukkah, during the closure. The government has imposed a fine of NIS 500 on those who violate this provision.

Sukkot is usually a holiday of hosting friends and family in one’s Sukkah.

The President’s Sukkah, which is usually open to visits, will be accessible this year only by an online event. The annual event will be held this year in a virtual format under the heading: “Science Games in the Presidential Sukkah.”

Leading rabbis, seeing the high toll the virus is taking on their communities, have called on their followers to pray only outside synagogues and refrain from mass congregations.

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