UAE: First Ever Public Sukkah built in Front of Dubai’s ‘Tower of Babel’
In the wake of the Abraham Accords, an unprecedented sight appeared in front of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai; a Sukkah. Due to its unprecedented height, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper is often referred to and compared to the Biblical Tower of Babel.
World’s Tallest Building Hosts Jewish Sukkah
The Sukkah was built in coordination with Dubai’s local authorities and security forces, and the rabbi of Dubai’s Jewish community, Rabbi Levi Duchman.
“The Jewish community here lives in safety and peace thanks to the authorities,” Duchman said. “In the sukkah, as well as in the synagogue, we will pray for authorities’ success and for the health of Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.”
The Jewish community announced that the sukkah was open to everyone and that “every Jew who lives here regularly or has come here for one purpose or another is invited to our sukkah. It is, of course, also open to the people of the Emirates who accept us with open arms.”
What is a Sukkah?
A sukkah is a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Biblical feast of Sukkot. The Book of Vayikra (Leviticus) describes it as a symbolic wilderness shelter, commemorating the time God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness they inhabited after they were freed from slavery in Egypt. During the festival, Jews to eat and sleep and otherwise spend time in the sukkah. In Judaism, Sukkot is considered a joyous occasion and is referred to in Hebrew as Yom Simchateinu (the day of our rejoicing) or Z’man Simchateinu (the time of our rejoicing), and the sukkah itself symbolizes the frailty and transience of life and its dependence on God.
In order to properly observe the holiday, 150 sets of the Four Species arrived in Dubai from the United States and were distributed among the local Jewish community. The Four Species, comprised of an etrog (the fruit of a citron tree), a lulav (a frond from a date palm tree), boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree, and branches with leaves from the willow tree are waved as part of the holiday observance.
UAE: A True Respect for Jews
In another first, a synagogue operated in Abu Dhabi on Rosh Hashanah – for the first time ever. The first kosher restaurant, the Armani/Kaf, also opened recently and many hotels are now offering kosher food.
In an recent interview with the Jewish Press, Rabbi Duchman emphasized that these gestures were true expressions of respect for the Jews by the Emiratis:
“They deeply, deeply love the Jewish people. The UAE is a place of tolerance, a place of co-existence, and we’ve always been very well respected,” Rabbi Duchman said.”His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dubai, really pushes the people to be a beacon of light to their neighbors, so they have tremendous respect for all Jews.”
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