OF THE JOURNAL STAR 
Posted Oct 05, 2009 @ 10:58 PM

PEORIA — Under a makeshift wooden hut, members of the Jewish faith gathered Monday to celebrate the third day of the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as Sukkot.

For eight days of the Biblical holiday, Jews eat under a four-sided structure covered by bamboo or palm branches to remember the 40-year period when the children of Israel wandered the desert and lived in temporary shelters, said Rabbi Eli Langsam, director of Chabad Lubavitch of Peoria.

God protected them with "clouds of glory," which are represented by the huts - or sukkahs - that are built during the holiday, Langsam said.

About 30 people gathered for a two hours under a hut at the home of Langsam. The kosher barbecue meal was hosted by the Chabad Jewish Center of Peoria.

"We don't do it because it comfortable," said Langsam, adding that it's been rainy and cold. "We're doing it because it's a commandment of God. ... The Jews have been doing this for the last 3,000 years."

During the meal, Langsam presented the four symbolic items of the holiday: the citron fruit, palm, mertle and willow branches. All represent different kinds of Jews.

"We bring them all together and ask God to bless all the Jews for a good year," he said.

Leah Ketay of Peoria brought her 11-year-old daughter, Karen Ketay, to the meal. Karen, like the other children in attendance, spent the majority of her time in the inflatable bouncer and playing games.

"We want to make sure our children experience it, so they can pass down the tradition to their children," Leah said. "The (holiday) is a lot of fun for children."

Further explaining, she said, "A lot of Jewish families have their own sukkahs. It's supposed to be a substitute house for about seven days."

The kids also flocked to the juggler, who also had symbolic meaning, according to Langsam.

"The great rabbi during the time of temple used to juggle fire during the celebration of Sukkot," he said.

The holiday begins 14 days after the Jewish New Year, called Rosh Hashanah and five days after Yom Kippur, which ends the period of High Holy Days in the Jewish faith, said Langsam.

"I'm really excited," said Emily Halperin, 37, of Peoria after the meal. "I look forward to coming here."

 Stephanie Gomes can be reached at 686-3194 or sgomes@pjstar.com.


 

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The Jewish holiday of Sukkot is celebrated at 4820 N. Knoxville Ave Monday night as Rabbi Eli Lan...
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Children watch as Matt Zentko juggles as they celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot....
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The Jewish holiday of Sukkot is celebrated at 4820 N. Knoxville Ave Monday night as Rabbi Eli Lan...
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The Jewish holiday of Sukkot is celebrated at 4820 N. Knoxville Ave Monday night as Joseph Raskin...

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