OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — This week, hundreds of devout Jews in the metro are celebrating their biblical ancestors release from Egypt by eating an sleeping outside in a sort of hut.
In Hebrew, the eight-day holiday is called Sukkot. The English translation is “the feast of tabernacles or booths.”
From the outside, it looks like a remodeling project underway. Three walls of tarp connected to the back of a house. Entering a traditional Sukkot feels almost holy.
“For thousands of years, Jewish people have dwelt in these booths in warm and cold climates even in the holocaust,” Rabbi Daniel Rockoff said. “People literally risk their lives to build these booths.”
The music and comradery is enough to rouse even sleepy teenagers before dawn. And not only do the faithful meet and eat in their Sukkots, but some of them also sleep here. Dweling with God, in remembrance of the Israelites who slept in the wilderness for 40 years on their way to the promised land.
“You wake up in the Sukkot and you look around and see the surroundings and it brings you closer to who you are inside and connecting to God,” Ethan Katz said.
“I think it makes me feel a lot more connected to Go, ” Cameron Burns said. “It is just a lot colder here than in Israel.”
Many of the kids here belong to NCSY, a youth group in the metro that goes into public schools to educate Jewish and non-Jewish kids about Hebrew culture, and about holidays like Sukkot.
“It brings together the time of our rejoicing,” Katz added. “It is leaving our house and coming to the Sukkot and realizing that you don’t need anything in your house to rejoice. Everything you can have is from your family and your friends.”
“The hope is the flame of love for God will ignite in the young, so they will pass the ancient traditions on. What’s been passed down from generation to generation going back from when we left Egypt. Through the holocaust and our grandparents and great grandparents, and its come down to us and God willing, we are going to pass it to our children also,”