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Chana Cunin, 8, covers her eyes at a candle-lighting ceremony Monday to begin the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The eye covering signals the transition from the mundane everyday world to the holy world of the holiday.

Jewish holiday celebrates fall harvest

 

BY DAVID JACOBS • djacobs@rgj.com • October 14, 2008

 

At Chabad of Northern Nevada in Reno, congregation members have built a sukkah, a shelter-like structure made of all-natural materials such as branches and leaves.

"We had five able men doing it, so it only took a couple of hours," Rabbi Mendel Cunin said Monday as the holiday kicked off.

The sukkah is a symbol of unity and a symbol of victory and confidence, he added.

Besides the fall harvest, Sukkot pays tribute to the desert-wandering of the Jews during the Exodus.

"The message Sukkot gives us is a positive message," he said.

"It is written somewhere that many years ago when they used to go out to battle and when they were victorious, they used to shake the palm branch," Cunin said.

"Battle doesn't necessarily mean physically battle," he said. "It means a spiritual battle against oppression, a battle against sadness, a battle of feeling that you're not going to be victorious, that things are not going to go right.

"It teaches that if you go with a great, positive attitude, everything is going to work out."

Sukkot comes after the welcoming of the Jewish new year, 5769, and Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day

of Atonement.

"It was a difficult new year for many people," Cunin said, noting U.S. financial turmoil. "A large part of it was people panicking."

He considers Sukkot "a holiday of happiness, a holiday of confidence."

"The biggest trouble that America is facing now is people's lack of confidence," Cunin said. "My wish is that everybody should be very positive thinking and go with the attitude that everything will go right."