President Reuven Rivlin..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Ordinarily, the presidential succa, or the symbolic small one that goes up and comes down again before the holiday is decorated by one or more groups of school children. However because of the traffic problems cause by the Formula road show, this year there were only four children present, the offspring of employees in the presidential complex.
Theirs was a symbolic succa, and as President Reuven Rivlin strode across the lawns to assist them, he commented that because it was not yet the holiday, he didn’t have to put a kippa on his head when he entered the succa which was festooned with paper chains, apples, pomegranates and multi-colored metallic adornments.
Setting the tone for an easy conversation with the quartet, Rivlin wished them good morning, asked how they were and whether everything was okay. He asked whether they knew any Succot songs and led them in a chorus of Patish mazmer nikach maher… (We’ll quickly take a hammer and a nail….) Clearly an experienced succa decorator, the president then proceeded to help the youngsters, saying “I’ll hang this because I’m the tallest.” Then realizing that the children were there for a purpose, said “Okay, now it’s your turn.”
Once the decorations were up Rivlin quizzed the children about the holiday, told them how it relates to the exodus from Egypt and freedom from slavery, and how the succa is a reminder of the time in which the Children of Israel were not yet a nation. The presidential succa symbolizes the nationhood and unity of Israel, because the home of the president belongs to the whole of Israel, including non-Jews, he said.
The welcoming of the whole population into the succa on Succot, is proof that the house belongs to the people, he emphasized, saying: “It’s the symbol of Israel. We all meet in different places throughout the year, but on Succot everyone can meet in the presidential succa.”
A much larger succa in which Rivlin and his wife Nechama will receive the public throughout the morning next Monday, October 13, was still under construction.
The emphasis of exhibits being prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry for the Environment will be a green, pollution-free Israel. The aim is to raise public awareness and influence a change in attitude.