Sukkot has begun in Australia and brings to an end the three pilgrimage festivals of Judaism, also including Passover and Shavu’ot. In an historical sense, Sukkot is a remembrance of the forty years spent in the dessert by the children of Islam, where they were forced to dwell in temporary structures named sukkah, trusting in the will of God. It also functions as an agricultural harvest festival.
In honour of this festival, many people of the Jewish faith will build their own sukkah and dwell in there for seven days – although dwell can be taken to mean simply that one eats their meals in there, it’s advised that if you are of good health and the weather is not harsh you ought to spend as much time in there as possible.
The structure is only a sukkah if it has two and a half walls covered in a sturdy material, and its roof is made of something that has grown from the ground, such as bamboo, sticks or tree branches. The roof isn’t tied down but left loose with holes of up to ten inches, or at least so that there is more shade than dark. Although a covering can be used, it invalidates the mitzvah of dwelling in there, so should be used sparingly.
Another major tradition is the bringing together of the Four Species, or arba minim. These include an etrog – a kind of lemon fruit native to Israel – a palm branch, two branches of willow and three branches of myrtle. The six branches all together are referred to as the lulav, the word for palm leaves as they are the largest, and are bound together in one hand while the other holds the etrog. Holding all four species, one would recite a blessing and wave the collection in six directions to demonstrate that God is everywhere.
Despite its being a harvest festival, the Sukkot celebration doesn’t have any particularly popular foods except for Kreplach. There is actually a lot of potential meaning in the eating of Kreplach on religious festivals; some say that the filling and covering act as a representation of our inner and outer selves, while others suggest the approximately triangular shape symbolises the three patriarchs of Judaism, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There are other explanations, but still more people believe it’s just a delicious, traditional meal which is perfect for celebrations.
A Basic Kreplach Recipe
- 1 ¾ cups flour
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 tbsps oil
- Cup ground cooked beef or chicken
- 1 small grated onion
- 1 tsp of salt
Begin making the dough by combine all of the ingredients together, kneading and then rolling out as thin as possible onto a floured board.
Cut the dough into three inch squares.
In a bowl, mix together the filling ingredients and then you’re ready to fill and cooked.
To fill as triangles, place a teaspoon of the meaty filling into the centre of each three inch square. Then bring one corner up to its diagonal opposite, sealing all of the edges with moistened edges if necessary.
To serve, they are boiled and then included in soup or sautéed. Cook for 20 minutes in salted, boiling water until they float to the top – you can then sauté them until golden brown on both sides or add them to a soup.
You can make these a little more exciting by adding a mixture of beaten egg yolks water and baking powder to the flour mixture, and including egg, salt and pepper and Matzoh meal in the filling.