Anyway, unlike last year where we had to build our own Sukkah (which was a lot of fun); this year the Yeshiva provided a Sukkah right outside our front door. Though I had to build it twice (with help from the students) it was not the same. We had guests (also recent olim) for lunch but dinner was very special since we were able to have it to ourselves. Oh the joy of the quiet.
Thursday was probably the highlight of the festival, we went to the Kotel (Western Wall) for the annual Bircat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing). Here in Israel we have a Bircat Kohanim every day during services in the morning - whereas in the US it's only done on the festivals - but nonetheless the Bircat Kohanim done here during the festivals is quite speical; especially the one during Sukkot.
As you can see from the pictures below, the place was packed. I've never seen so many people at the Kotel. Every spare inch of the nearby rooftops was used by spectators to take part in the ceremony.
While at the Kotel for this amazing experience, I took some pictures of Lulav and Etrog sets that I saw. Normally most look the same - the same 4 species Lulav, Etrog, Hadas, Aravah (Palm, Citron, Myrtle, Willow) - but sometimes people have different ideas of how they all fit together.
Here's a picture of what they normally look like:
Now for a couple that I found interesting:
That's our friend Elie with a Yeminite Etrog.
I don't really know what's going on with this one, but it's quite cool. This guy is not the guy who owned it, but one of the guys who was able to shake it (as was I). Here's another one of that same Lulav with the owner:I wish I could have taken a better photo of this one, but alas I could not. Thursday night we went to Beit Shemesh which is a city about 30 minutes outside of Jerusalem for a music festival. It's free and a good time, especially since a friend of mine was playing. It started at 6pm and there were tons of families there then and little by little as the bands came and went it turned over to a more teenager friendly place. We spent Shabbat back at Hamivtar (my Yeshiva from last year) visiting the friends that we made there. It was so refreshing to go back there. We spent our time talking to our friends and and instead of 48 18 year-olds we spent our time with their children.
Since Sukkot, we've been back at work. Naomi's started her Masters at Hebrew U and I've finally begun teaching and continuing my learning. With the Obama win, the Phillies World Series, and a stellar Steelers team it's looking to be a great fall all around.