Special to the Jewish Times
In Europe, just after the break-the-fast meal was over, Jews would proceed to hammer the first nail to begin building the sukkah.
Observant Jews today remember these makeshift huts by building similar structures out of wood, branches, harvest vines and fruits. The idea is to be open to the skies just like in biblical times, when the Jews left Egypt to wander the desert before reaching the Promised Land.
The foods of Sukkot present interesting choices. Casseroles are traditionally used because they could be kept hot on the trip from the kitchen to the sukkah. Stuffed foods, such as cabbage, peppers and strudels, also are served, making each dish as plentiful as possible.
Dining under the stars on a crisp cool autumn night can be educational, romantic and challenging. But mostly, it provides a unique ambiance to remember and give thanks for a bountiful harvest with prayers for fruitful harvests to come.
Ilene Spector is a local free-lance writer.