"In the shadow of nuclear weapons we all dwell in Sukkot with our roofs open to the moon and stars for there is no shelter anywhere on this planet to protect us from the fire, the blast or the poison of nuclear rain." -- Sukkat Shalom/Shelter of Peace flyer
Sukkot, the Jewish harvest festival, will be celebrated tomorrow in Lafayette Park with the building of a sukkah, a three-sided shelter made of branches. But the event carries another message this year.
Concerned Jews and members of other faiths are traveling here to join in voicing their protest and fear of a "nuclear holocaust." The day-long rally is sponsored by a coalition of national Jewish organizations, and is planned to coincide with rallies in Chicago, San Francisco and other cities.
"One of the things that Jewish tradition holds as a very high value is peace and this is a way of expressing that value," said Michael Wasserman, a rabbinical intern in Rosslyn, N.Y., who will travel here for the event.
The nine-day Sukkot holiday began last Thursday. It celebrates the harvest season and recalls the flight of Israelites through the wilderness during the Exodus. "Sukkot the plural of sukkah is an eternal reminder of an ancient period, in which our ancestors wandered for decades in the wilderness on their way to freedom and independent nationhood," reads a local synagogue newsletter.
To celebrate, a sukkah hut is built in which to eat holiday meals and sleep throughout Sukkot. Officials at the Israeli Embassy erect a sukkah in the building's courtyard every year, much to the delight of visitors.
Tomorrow's rally begins at 8:30 a.m. and the day's activities will include a children's program of music and postermaking at 11:45 a.m. Speakers and folk artists will perform from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
The roster of speakers will include Ted Mann, chairman of the American Jewish Congress; Rabbi Myron Fenster, of the Rabbinical Assembly; Leonard Fine, editor of Moment magazine; and author Susannah Heschel.
Orthodox, Conservative and Reformed Jews have donated about $2,700 for the rally, said Robin Miller, national coordinator of the event. Miller added, however, that the rally is "not officially endorsed by the Orthodox movement."
Sponsors for the rally include the Commission on Social Action of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Rabbinical Assembly, Jewish Peace Fellowship, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation.
Other Sukkot events include:
Sukkot celebration with food, apple-picking and singing, 1 p.m. tomorrow, Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center, 8822 Little River Tpke., Fairfax.
Sukkot Family Supper with music and traditional blessings, 5:30 p.m. tomorrow, Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, 6125 Montrose Rd., Rockville. Cost $8, $6 for children of nonmembers; $6, $4 for children of Center members. Advance reservations required. Call 881-0100.
Sukkot Single's Get-Together, 8 to 10 p.m. tomorrow, in the Bethesda area. Sponsored by Adas Israel Congregation. Call 362-6295.