Sukkot with the president

October 10, 2017 Agencies
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President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin have hosted their traditional Open Sukkot event, inviting the Israeli public to celebrate the holiday at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Photo: Mark Neiman/GPO

Despite unseasonal weather, thousands of guests arrived throughout the day to greet the President and First Lady, and take part in the exhibition and activities. This year the Sukkah was themed “Celebrating 70 years in the President’s Sukkah with our brothers and sisters of the Diaspora”, and was held in cooperation with the Diaspora Ministry. The event included a variety of activities for the whole family, including theatrical and musical performances, arts and crafts, an exhibition of heroes from Jewish history, and the chance to draw a family tree.

The President greeted those arriving to the Sukkah and said, “This house usually welcomes heads of states, ambassadors and dignitaries, but today this house is even more fortunate to welcome those to whom it belongs and those it serves. The President’s Residence is the house of all the citizens of the State of Israel, each of you here are guests and also hosts.

The President made special welcome of the members of Israel’s public with disabilities who came to the Sukkah. He said, “I give a special welcome to our important guests, our dear guests with disabilities, together we are all one, we are responsible for each other.”

The President spoke of the importance of the Sukkah’s theme, the Jewish communities around the world, “From everywhere in the Diaspora we have lived in exile, we have brought with us a wealth of culture when we returned to our land. And so we have today a vast and extraordinary mosaic of all the tribes, and still today half of the Jewish people live in the Diaspora. This year we are hosting them in a symbolic way, here in the President’s Sukkah.”

The President added, “The President’s Sukkah has an educational role, to teach the younger generation that lives here in Israel about the Jewish communities of the Diaspora, about their importance and their contribution to humanity, as a part of understanding the history of the Jewish people. We want Israeli citizens to know world Jewry in all its diversity.

The connection between the People of Israel to Zion was never broken for a moment, and also today, Jews who live in the Diaspora know and express all the time the connection to ‘home’, to the State of Israel, to the Land of Israel.” Referencing the Four Species symbolic of the festival of Sukkoth, the President added, “Just as the Etrog (citron) fruit needs the palm branch, the willows and the myrtles, so the bond between all the tribes of Israel and the Diaspora is important to both sides together.

This bond must be nurtured and rooted in mutual recognition. I welcome you all, and express my hope that our Sukkah will be a ‘tabernacle of peace’, of true listening, and that we will all have a prosperous year.”

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