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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about...Sukkot (sooKOTE), the week-long Jewish festival commemorating the fall harvest and the Exodus from Egypt.


CURWOOD: At this time of year, Jews celebrate Sukkot. The week-long festival commemorates two major events in Jewish life: the fall harvest, and the exodus from Egypt. To recall the 40-year wandering through the desert, Jews build a sukkah, a dwelling with at least three sides that's filled with harvest foods and covered with a roof of branches.

Through the roof, the night stars must be clearly visible. Jews eat in the sukkah and sometimes sleep in the sukkah. Surrounded by the harvest, the branches and the stars, they are reminded of the permanence of the natural world, in contrast with the temporary structure around them. To honor the harvest, participants shake a lulav: palm, myrtle and willow branches bound together, along with a yellow citrus fruit called an etrog. The sweet smell of the etrog and the colors and crackle of the lulav highlight the centrality of the season, and serve as a remembrance of a time when lives were more obviously tied intimately to nature's cycles. And for this week that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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