Celebrating Sukkot under fire in Ukraine and around the world

About 200 of the city's residents are expected to visit it Sunday night and on Monday, the first day of Sukkot.

 A sukkah built in Northern Cyprus. (photo credit: CHABAD)
A sukkah built in Northern Cyprus.
(photo credit: CHABAD)

The shelling of the city of Zaporizhshia a few hours before the eve of Sukkot didn’t prevent Rabbi Nahum Arntroy from building a large sukkah in the courtyard of the synagogue.

Arntroy, the rabbi of the city and the Chabad emissary, is expected to host hundreds of the city’s residents during the holiday.

Additional Sukkot were built all over Ukraine, where Chabad emissaries are offering holiday meals and the opportunity to make a blessing on the arba'at ha'minim, the four species, lulav (palm branch), hadas (myrtle), arava (willow) and etrog (citron) that were imported to Ukraine from Israel in a complex operation.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Ukraine decided it wouldn’t let the ongoing war get in the way of the Sukkot celebrations and prepared for the holiday ahead of time. The four species left Israel for Austria a few weeks ago and were then transferred to Hungary, where they underwent a process of sorting and were combined into sets.

Later on, in a refrigerated vehicle, they were driven to a distribution center in the city of Uzhgorod in Ukraine, with the assistance of the local city rabbi.

From Uzhgorod, the sets were distributed all over Ukraine to the rabbis, Chabad emissaries and even to small communities where there is no permanent rabbi, “in order to allow Ukrainian Jews to celebrate the holiday,” according to the Federation. 

Sukkot sets were also sent by the federation to Jewish soldiers in the Donbas region, at their request. “Not even a war will stop us from continuing to provide religious services to the Jews of Ukraine,” said chairman of the federation Rabbi Meir Stambler. He added that the “operation was challenging,” but that he’s “glad we succeeded.”

Sukkot in other places in the Jewish diaspora

Thousands of Ethiopian Jews and those that are expected to make aliyah in order to reunite with their families in Israel will also celebrate the holiday. Rabbi Menachem Waldman, one of the leaders of the Ethiopian Jewish community, told The Jerusalem Post that “A sukkah was built in every Jewish community next to the synagogue.”

The main communities in Ethiopia are in Addis Ababa and Gondar. In addition, “15 arba'at ha'minim sets were sent to Ethiopia from Israel,” he added. According to Waldman, 6 volunteer emissaries were sent from Israel to Ethiopia in order to celebrate all of the holidays of the month of Tishri (the first month in the Jewish calendar) together.

The Jewish communities in Muslim countries have also built Sukkot and will celebrate the holiday. Chabad of the UAE has shared on its Twitter page that it has already finished building Sukkot in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Rabbi Mendy Chitrik of  Istanbul, head of the Alliance Rabbis Islamic States, said that Sukkot were also built in Muslim countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Christian-Muslim Nigeria and Northern Cyprus.