Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Chag Sameach! (Happy holiday (Holy Day)!, lit joyous festival)

I love our Sunday School curriculum, Show Me Jesus by Great Commission Publications. I've been teaching the 2nd/3rd graders from the Middle Elementary for a couple years now1 and I have been blessed over and over again by the kids and getting to look deeper into the Bible with them. One thing I particularly love is its focus on holidays, by which I mean Holy Days, which is to say, the holidays Jesus celebrated. We as Christians too often overlook that Jesus was an observant Jew.

This time of year we have three major Jewish holidays. I've already briefly covered Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, but the one I unfortunately tend to forget until it is upon us2 is Sukkot. And honestly, Sukkot is the one in which, in the days of the Temple, Jews were instructed to make pilgrimage. There are only three such pilgrimage feasts in the year; the other two are Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) and the Feast of Weeks (Shavu'ot in Hebrew, Pentecost in Greek, which the Christian church has changed focus on to when the Holy Spirit came down like tongues of fire on the disciples and they spoke in all different languages, understandable to the multitudes there from different lands. Did you ever wonder why there were Jews from all nations in Jerusalem at that time?)

1 My first group of 1st graders (it used to be a 3-year Primaries curriculum) are college freshmen this year. Yikes!
2 I know why I tend to forget it: I grew up in a school district that had enough of a Jewish population that they closed schools for some Jewish holidays. Specifically, two of three fall holidays. Guess which one we were still in school?

In ASL, the sign for TABERNACLE is the same as CAMP3 or TENT, because the house of worship was mobile for the Israelites' journey through the wilderness, unlike the TEMPLE or CHURCH, which is built on a ROCK and is fixed in location.4

3 Or, locally, the first part of Camp Hill.
4 Yes, does post the same sign for TEMPLE and TABERNACLE. But the book Religious Signing does not, and is theologically more accurate here.

About Sukkot

And for your entertainment, a musical interlude.

I also highly highly recommend the movie Ushpizin, which is set in an Orthodox Jewish community during Tabernacles. How conservative are they? The husband in the movie had his actual wife play his movie wife so as not to show any impropriety. Amazing amazing movie.
The full movie is also available online. A word of caution: it is in Hebrew, subtitled in English.
For reference: a quick summation of Sukkot from Huffington Post.

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