After escaping from slavery in Egypt, the early Jews, or Israelites, wandered through the desert for 40 years on the way to the Promised Land. The Jewish holiday Sukkot celebrates the fact that God provided shelter for the Israelites in the form of small, temporary huts. Each hut is called a Sukkah, the singular or Sukkot.
Today, the holiday focuses on the appreciation of nature and community. For seven or eight days in the fall, Jewish people around the world build Sukkot, eat meals in their Sukkot, even sleep in their Sukkot. This year, Sukkot was celebrated from Oct. 12 to 19.
This audio slideshow explores the ways Jews in Champaign and Urbana celebrate the harvest-time holiday. I focused on three people: Karin Cukierman-Zingerevitz, a Religious school teacher at Sinai Temple; Naftali Rothstein, an Orthodox rabbi living in Champaign; and Craig Koslofsky, an Urbana resident who built a Sukkah on his back porch.