Posted on September 23, 2010


The holiday of Sukkot, for those of you who are not familiar, originally celebrated the late summer harvest, with a pilgrimage to the Temple bearing offerings of the season’s yield. In commemoration of the local practice during Biblical times, Jews are commanded to build a “Sukka” (booth, tabernacle) – a makeshift outdoor structure that recalls those temporary shelters used by the ancient farmers to guard over their fields during harvest time.  And indeed, in yards and porches all across the country stand Sukkot (plural of Sukka) – cladded in sheets and topped with palm fronds.

Yesterday, the day before Sukkot began, Ron and I set out to document these harvest structures in the original sense.  At this point in late September, after a cataclysmically hot summer, the crops of vegetables growing in the Bet Netufa Valley are pretty well depleted.  But as we drove over a rutted dirt road between the Arab villages of Tur’an and Rumat el Heib, a flat expanse that is entirely agricultural, we saw dozens of these harvest shelters – some still being used and others in disarray.

At this Sukka, I found a gentleman sitting and waiting for his friend, the owner, to arrive.  I explained to him my interest and why I wanted to take a picture, and he explained that this is a fellah sukkah (referring to the Palestinian farmer).  

Next to a neighboring Sukka was another solitary farmer, weeding in his field.  He showed me the okra and black eyed pea plants that were still yielding produce, and another area he’d planted with cucumbers.  If they survive, he said, then he is in luck.  Inshallah