Tourist Tip #336 The Four Species Festival in Tel Aviv

You can get the four species and palm fronds there. Or just swing by to sniff at the etrogim.

Anat Rosenberg
Anat Rosenberg
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Anat Rosenberg
Anat Rosenberg

Okay, so the High Holy Days are over, you’ve ushered in the New Year with apples and honey, you atoned for your sins, and wonder - what’s next? Well, Sukkot, of course.

The weeklong holiday also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles begins at sundown on Wednesday (September 18) and lasts for a week until the following Wednesday (September 25; outside of Israel the holiday runs eight days).

Along with Passover and Shavuot, Sukkot is one of the three "pilgrimage festivals," when Jews would go to the temple in Jerusalem to pray. The holiday commemorates the exodus from Egypt, when the Jews lived in fragile temporary dwellings as they wandered the desert for 40 years en route to the Promised Land. That’s why Jews worldwide still build sukkot (booths or tabernacles) today and eat their meals there during the holiday; some brave souls even sleep in them.

Yet the holiday has agricultural roots as well, which is why it’s also called chag ha’asif (the festival of the gathering) and zman simchateinu (our time of joy) – to celebrate the autumn harvest.

Those of you familiar with Sukkot know that, in addition to dining in the sukkah, celebrating the holiday entails saying a blessing over the four species (arba’at haminim in Hebrew): the lulav (palm fronds), etrog (citron), aravot (willow branches) and hadassim (myrtle branches). You can find a nifty pictorial guide here on how to wave the species together while saying a blessing.

But if you’d like to get an up-close-and-personal look at the four species, learn more about them or perhaps buy a set for the holiday, Rabin Square in Tel Aviv is hosting the Four Species festival for three days next week, from Monday, September 16 until Wednesday, September 18. Visitors can also buy decorations for a sukkah at the event, along with skakh – the ritual covering for a sukkah made of fronds and branches. Entry to the festival is free, which means you can swing by just to get a whiff of the sweet-smelling etrogim.

Hours: Monday, 10 A.M.-10 P.M.; Tuesday, 8 A.M.-10 P.M.; Wednesday, 7 A.M.-3 P.M. at Rabin Square, Tel Aviv

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man of the priestly Cohanim caste prays during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot in front of the Western Wall, in Jerusalem's Old City, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012.Credit: AP
Members of the Samaritan community take part in a traditional pilgrimage marking the holiday of Sukkot or Feast of Tabernacles atop Mount Gerizim near the West Bank city of Nablus.
A sukkah in Tel Aviv.
A sukkah on a Tel Aviv sidewalk.
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Members of the Samaritan community take part in a traditional pilgrimage marking the holiday of Sukkot or Feast of Tabernacles atop Mount Gerizim near the West Bank city of Nablus.Credit: Reuters
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A sukkah in Tel Aviv.Credit: Nir Kedar
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A sukkah on a Tel Aviv sidewalk.Credit: Nir Kedar
Sukkoth

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