Because Jews celebrate their holy days by a lunar calendar while Christians live by a solar calendar, festivals of the two faiths that are in some way related seldom fall on the same date. The difference can run from days to weeks because a Jewish leap year incorporates not an extra day but an extra month. The only festival in which the days are always the same is the Feast of Tabernacles, which in Jewish parlance is Succot, since Christians who observe it do so according to the Hebrew calendar.
The festival commemorates the time when the Israelites lived in the desert after coming out of Egypt and enjoyed temporary housing, or succot, and received the Torah.
The Torah is often referred to as the bride of the Jewish people. At the end of Succot, the festival known as Simhat Torah takes the form of a wedding, with people dancing beneath a bridal canopy, carrying a scroll in their arms. In Jerusalem, some congregations dance into the streets, with at least four congregants holding a huppa over the scroll bearers, while the other congregants dance behind them. They proceed in this mood to the Western Wall, where the plaza is filled with many huppot, Torah bearers and dancers celebrating their commitment to God.
“Tabernacles was never incorporated in the Christian calendar like Passover and Pentecost were,” says David Parsons, media director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), which in its founding year three decades ago introduced the Feast of Tabernacles into modern Christian practice.
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