President’s succa to focus on science

Three-ton rocket, which will be mounted on a simulated launcher, will be one of the many scientific attractions to be featured at the president’s open-house succa.

Peres Succa 311 (photo credit: Mark Nieman)
Peres Succa 311
(photo credit: Mark Nieman)
Dignitaries and entertainers are often warned to beware of children and puppies, who tend – albeit unwittingly – to steal the limelight.
President Shimon Peres, who hosted a bunch of tiny tots from Kibbutz Ramat Rachel who had come on Tuesday to help him decorate the presidential succa, had no such qualms.
For one thing, he has a marvelous rapport with children, and they complement him rather than overshadow him.
For another, the phalanx of photographers – who took up every centimeter of space at the entrance to the succa – were much more interested in the three-ton rocket that was being lowered into the grounds from a giant crane and swinging precariously in the air.
“Isn’t the guy operating the crane getting any instructions?” one of the photographers asked in alarm. It was fortunate that the rocket wasn’t loaded with explosives.
When it is loaded, said a representative of Israel Aerospace Industries, it weighs in excess of 22 tons.
It’s not every day that one sees a rocket in one of Jerusalem’s upscale residential neighborhoods. There was one last year as well, but for some reason, greater emphasis is being put on its presence this year – perhaps as a warning to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The rocket, which will be mounted on a simulated launcher, will be one of the many scientific attractions to be featured at the president’s open-house succa on Monday morning, October 17.
The key emphasis on exhibits will be science and the environment Yoram Raviv, the deputy director general at the President’s Residence told reporters.
“The exhibits will feature the best of the best of Israel technology from science-based industries and science museums,” he said.
The President’s Residence, he added, is the symbol of the nation, and there is no more appropriate time than Succot for the nation to come to the residence and see for itself what Israel has accomplished.
Throughout the rest of the year they can read or hear about accomplishments, said Raviv, adding that this is an opportunity to actually see some of the more important ones, and to be even be able to touch them.
Traditionally, the president’s succa is decorated by youngsters from two or three schools and kindergartens.
This time they came from Ramat Rachel because the kibbutz is home to the president’s in-house photographer and Chief of Special Operations Jossef Avi Yair Engel.
“Bringing the children from Ramat Rachel to the President’s Residence was the simplest form of delivery,” explained Engel. Several of the kibbutz parents also came along for the ride – not because they were so eager to have a preview of Succot events, but because they wanted to photograph their children with the president.
Also on hand were Chabad Rabbis Binyamin Lifshitz and Ohana Gershom, who each year bring a lulav and Etrog from Kfar Chabad as a gift to the president.
Peres took time out from other duties to meet with the children who were growing somewhat impatient and repeatedly asked through a microphone when he would join them. He shook hands with each and every one of them, sang holiday songs with them, listened with them while the rabbis explained the meaning of Succot and the way in which the lulav represents all the characteristics of the Jewish people, and then asked the children to join him in a blessing for peace and the strengthening of Jerusalem.
He also asked them to join him in inviting all of Israel to visit in the succa next Monday.
In previous years, the president’s succa was located on a back patio adjacent to the main reception hall. This year it is on the grass in direct line from the entrance to the presidential compound. It is also smaller than in the past.
The exhibits had not yet been properly arranged, and the main reception hall looked like the set of Sesame Street with quasi-human and animal figures in bright colors placed in and around hay wagons.
For security reasons, visitors to the residence on Monday should ensure that they have an ID card or passport to gain admittance.