Right-wingers seek to nail political message with mega-succot

Right-wingers seek to na

The rabbis teach that the point of building a succa is to help us to remember how temporary and precarious our existence is, in the hope that this will lead us to be more thankful to God for protecting us. But a new initiative supported by a group of right-wing activists is turning the temporary dimension of the Succot holiday on its head. Instead of building flimsy, temporary buildings for the seven days of the holiday that starts in just under two weeks, these activists are encouraging Israelis to build the most massively constructed, permanent buildings they can - smack in the middle of Judea and Samaria. "We want those succot to stay put after the holiday is over," said Shay Gefen, a spokesman for the initiative called "Succot forever" (Sukkot La'Netzach). "We want to create facts on the ground," he said. The initiative is a form of protest against US demands that Israel freeze building in Judea and Samaria as part of an attempt to resuscitate diplomatic talks with the Palestinians. "It is a mitzva to build a succa and it is a mitzva to build in Judea and Samaria," said Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, who added that his organization, the Task Force to Save the People and the Land, would be offering prizes for the most massive edifices. Gefen said that an American Jew was funding five prizes of NIS 5,000 each for the most permanent succot in Judea and Samaria. Besides Wolpe, activist Baruch Marzel and MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) are also behind the initiative. Rabbi Daniel Shilo from Kedumim, who is not directly involved with the succa initiative, said he supported it as a legitimate form of demonstrating against the building freeze. "I hope that some of the succot manage to stay put," added Shilo, who is a member of Yesha Rabbis, a group of settlement rabbis.