Customarily defined by family visits and community celebrations, this year the holiday of Sukkot sported a different look all over the world due to coronavirus restrictions and social distancing.
While ALEH facilities in Jerusalem and the Negev strictly adhered to all precautionary health measures, residents, staff and volunteers staunchly preserved the holiday atmosphere defined as “our time of joy” during the weeklong holiday.
Pre-Sukkot preparations saw residents of ALEH Jerusalem and ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran crafting colorful chains to be hung as Sukkah decorations, while children in the special education schools of both facilities built personalized small-scale Sukkahs to be shared with fellow residents and staff through school exhibit displays.
A variety of on-site activities including an outdoor darbuka drum show filled the Negev village with sounds of music, while past National Service volunteers returned to spend a full week partying with residents, utilizing their usual passion and energy to enhance the holiday atmosphere. Week-long festivities concluded with a Simchat Torah celebration, complete with an oversized cardboard Torah that residents were able to carry while dancing.
In keeping with the times, ALEH Jerusalem’s annual Simchat Beit HaShoeva, a traditional holiday celebration of music and dancing, went on-line. Family and friends joined ALEH residents and staff for a ZOOM party that will go down in the annals of ALEH Jerusalem history as one of the happiest and most special celebrations ever.
This year, the traditional post-Sukkot blessing for a healthy winter takes on special significance as we hope and pray for a speedy end to COVID-19, with lockdowns and social distancing rapidly relegated to history.