October 3, 2010

Celebrating Sukkot

Learning about biblical holidays has been something we’ve been wanting to do as a family for some years now, but just hasn’t happened.  Although there is a large Jewish community here in Panama, the only physical reminder I had of a holiday being celebrated was by seeing stores closed in the mall.  So, this summer I got out my calendar, and scheduled our review weeks during the biblical holidays.  Now there was no excuse NOT to learn about and celebrate them!  

So, during our last review week we began learning about Sukkot, or the Feast of the Tabernacles, and concluded with a church family-wide celebration last night.  One thing that surprised me was the lack of online resources for celebrating with children.  Perpetual Preschool had a few ideas, one of which I borrowed to make the song sheet below (thank you Rivkah for the words).

This year I decided to focus mainly on the Sukkah itself and it’s symbolism with the children.  Ideas include:
-Read about the instructions God gives in Leviticus 23, and compare those to those of a “Kosher Sukkah” found today (there are many resources online for this)
-Make a paper chain to use for decorations
-Taking a family/group picture in the Sukkah every year making a special album
-Make a shoebox model

We spent the week reviewing the story of Moses, and when we got to the tabernacle part, I told the children we were going to set up our tabernacle.  Of course that immediately sparked much excitement!   We decided that for this year our tabernacle would be pitching our big tent in the living room, as the humidity/bug/critter factor was more than very pregnant mama could handle this year.  It was a job that Papito was in charge of (as I had no idea about the condition since it was a freebie acquired through the revolving door of our Panama community).  Here is a nice little note Levi wrote Papito, and stuck on the fridge to remind him about the tabernacle (tent).  I was so proud of his Kidwriting!

For our group celebration night, we started by letting the children make an edible Sukkah out of graham crackers, peanut butter, pretzel sticks, raisins and craisins.  
I asked Levi to help me with Bible time, in an attempt to get the children settled after our snack project.  I knew a couple of the littles would follow him to the rug, and had planned to just read from our children’s bible when they got there.  However, Levi took the suggestion literally and helped me tell the story by standing up in front of all 20+ people to recite the story of Moses.  I was shocked!  Someone caught a little on video...

We watched a couple of silly YouTube videos on how to build a Sukkah in fast motion, and the right and wrong way to shake a lulav.  By this time, we were losing some of the younger ones and decided to put on the Ten Commandments while the older children and adults continued our discussion.  I had planned to let the children make shoebox models, but we ran out of time.  The lulav also provided lots of entertainment for the next couple of days, as it transformed the living room into a jungle adventure.  hehe

All in all, a great first time celebrating the Feast of the Tabernacles.  Next up...Hanukkah!

On a personal note, I had a great time reading and learning (including a 2 hour chunk of time to study while Papito took the little monkeys to the zoo!  Thank you my love!)  We miss so much of the symbolism and significance of biblical events by being ignorant of Jewish culture.  Oftentimes, reading the bible (especially for those who have memorized verses and heard stories from a young age) you just start to tune out phrases like “I am the light of the world” and “From me will come streams of living water.”  In my mind I know that everything Jesus said was the will of the Father and inspired by God, but at times I find myself just passing over passages quickly as “more random quotes from Jesus.”  By random I mean, "where in the world does He come up with some of these sayings?"  (I know, I know...sounds terrible, but I’m just being honest here!)  

The reason many are clueless to the significance of Jesus’ words is because we have little understanding of the context and culture to which He was speaking, and little knowledge of the rich symbolism phrases like “living water” and “light of the world” carried.  Once you get a glimpse of what Jesus was really saying to the people in the times in which He lived, you can't help but be amazed!!  He was no timid lamb being led to slaughter, He was a bold voice ready to say whatever His father told Him.  When He spoke up about the living water was at the height of the ceremony.  It was the equivalent of grabbing the mic at the shows big finale, and declaring Himself the main character!  

As you can tell, I’m a little excited about all this new revelation, but if I’m going to ever finish this blog post I’ve gotta wrap this up.  If you would like to read about it yourself, check out these resources for more information:

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