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What Jewish Holiday Is Wednesday?
This Wednesday marks the beginning of the holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Festival of Booths. This holiday is a joyous, seven-day festival, celebrated to commemorate the 40 years that the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness of Sinai before finally entering the Promised Land.
Sukkot commemorates the temporary desert dwellings and the faith of the Israelites. As part of the celebration, Jews build huts, called Sukkahs, to recreate the structures that their ancestors used while they traveled. Sukkahs are small structures, usually made of bamboo and other natural materials, and typically have a roof made of foliage. Transitioning out of summer and into the colder fall months, Jews use the Sukkahs to symbolize the fragility of life and the need to rely on God for protection and safety.
Throughout the holiday, families and friends use their Sukkahs to spend time together, eating meals and partaking in special holiday rituals. It is also customary to invite strangers, the poor, and other guests into the Sukkah to share in the joy of the holiday.
Additionally, many Jewish communities will participate in processions, shaking the four species of plants that are associated with Sukkot: the etrog (a citrus fruit similar to a lemon), a date palm branch, a myrtle branch, and willow branches. These species, collectively known as the lulav, are bundled together and shaken while certain passages of the Torah are recited, symbolizing the rejoicing of the Jewish people.
At the end of the festival of Sukkot, the last two days are celebrated as the holiday of Shemini Atzeret. During this period, Jews observe Yizkor, a memorial service where they remember the deceased and offer prayers of supplication. The day culminates with the celebration of Simchat Torah, a festival that focuses on rejoicing over the completion of the annual cycle of weekly Torah readings.
Sukkot is a time of joy, festivities, and reflection, as Jewish people everywhere come together to celebrate the history of their people and the strength and courage that their ancestors displayed.