‘Season of Our Rejoicing’ in a Time of War

Stand for Israel  |  October 17, 2022

Jews in Ukraine during Sukkot before WWII, 1931
(Photo: wikicommons)

The Jewish community of Ukraine continues to face the threats of the ongoing Russian war against their country. But for Ukraine’s Jews, observing biblical holy days during times of strife is nothing new. The Jerusalem Post’s Zvika Klein spoke with the chief rabbi of Kyiv about how his community expected to celebrate Sukkot, a joyous biblical festival known as “the season of our rejoicing”:

This year’s Sukkot was very different for Ukraine’s Jews. At any given moment an attack could have caused a Jewish family to run to a nearby bomb shelter. The holiday of Sukkot is celebrated in temporary hut-like tents (lower-case “sukkah” singular and “sukkot” plural). In cases of risk or problematic weather, however, observant Jews are permitted to stay indoors.

Kyiv’s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Markowitz spoke to The Jerusalem Post prior to Sukkot and shared what he said were then plans for one of the more difficult holidays he ever experienced.

“Our community members usually use public sukkot that we build. It’s impossible to build sukkot on the sidewalks or in the street [as is done in Israel or in large Jewish neighborhoods in North America]. Therefore, most of the community uses the sukkot we build in a communal way…”

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