Rainy Weather Isn’t Dampening Enthusiasm For Jewish Harvest Festival Of Sukkot | Nashville Public Radio

Rainy Weather Isn’t Dampening Enthusiasm For Jewish Harvest Festival Of Sukkot

Sep 24, 2018

The rain may be cancelling many outdoor events, but not for the Jewish community in Middle Tennessee.

This week marks the harvest festival of Sukkot, where people build temporary structures that are very much not rainproof.

The eight-day holiday is supposed to recreate the experience of the Israelites wandering in the desert. By constructing these huts from often flimsy organic materials, it evokes a feeling of transience and being in the elements. Part of the celebration is spending as much time in a sukkah as possible, and Jewish families often eat in them and even sleep in them (although scholars have debated over the centuries how bad the weather has to be before it's OK to go indoors).

And indeed, the elements came tumbling down as the Akiva Jewish Day School was finishing up construction this weekend on their student sukkah, which is large enough to host a community dinner later this week.

Students at the Akiva School made paper decorations for the sukkah — which won't be strung until the weather dries out.
Credit Courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee

"In the pouring rain, we just finished putting the sukkah together, and it was a really fun and magical experience," said Julie Fortune, director of admissions and outreach at the Akiva School, housed on the campus of the Gordon Jewish Community Center.

Fortune said they've held off on fully decorating their sukkah. Students made mobiles and paper chains, which definitely wouldn't do well in the rain.

But the community dinner? That won't be canceled, Fortune said.

"Even if it's a little wet and a little drizzly, you can still have dinner or lunch in the sukkah," she said. "A lot of people still eat in the sukkah. That's really what it was all about — making it work during times of antiquity."

Although, unlike antiquity, this dinner does have an indoor rain plan if the weather gets really bad.