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A Hut Above 

Maltz Museum celebrates the harvest with food and shelter.

If you build it, they will eat in it. That’s the prevailing spirit at today’s Fall Harvest Festival at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. The bash celebrates Sukkot, the holiday that’s also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. Participants will learn how to construct a traditional open-air hut to commemorate the season. “It’s the final big harvest festival of the year,” says museum educator Mark Davidson. “A lot of Jewish holidays have to do with planting and reaping. But in the thousands of years that have passed, Jews have done less and less planting.”

They’re still partying, though. Back in the day, revelers were expected to consume each and every meal for an entire week inside their intricately decorated sukkah. “The farmers who were harvesting in the fields couldn’t afford to go back to eat at home,” says Davidson. “Instead, they built huts to eat and sleep in.” Davidson says he snoozes in the one he makes each year -- despite the sometimes frigid weather. “It got to about 35 degrees last year,” he recalls. You’ll also partake in a traditional Four Species ritual, which involves waving around exotic plants such as the palm-like lulav and the etrog, a type of citrus fruit. Also on tap: pumpkin-carving, fruit-eating, and hiking. “This is my favorite holiday,” says Davidson. “It takes you outdoors and gets you back in touch with nature during a time of year when everyone is going back inside.”
Sun., Sept. 30, 1-4 p.m., 2007

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