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Succoth Iftar Meal

Thursday 12 October 2006, by Dorit Shippin

The evening began as the sun set with a delicious Iftar meal. About thirty people, mostly men women and children of the community, gathered to eat together in the sukkah, which is partially open to the cool fall air. Each family brought a dish, so among the fare were a wonderful maqluba (the Palestinian “upside-down” dish), salads, side dishes, and chocolate chip cookies. As the night set in, the observant among us went into the prayer room to say the Muslim evening prayers.

Afterwards, everyone sat in a circle and listened to Shai Schwartz a Jewish NSWAS member and a storyteller. As we drank coffee and tea and nibbled on cake, Shai told the story of a young princess who, as a child, was kidnapped by thieves and no longer remembers her origins. Trained as a thief herself, she is eventually caught in the act and sentenced to death. However, she is called before the king and given the opportunity to plead his mercy.

Ever since the loss of his daughter, the king has been immersed in deep depression. Now, to cheer his mood, he asks the young thief to tell him a story. She chooses one that is known only to the two of them, since he used to tell this story to her when she was a child. By this means, he recognizes and becomes reunited with his daughter.

The story is a metaphor for the Jewish high holidays, in which one is brought back “home” and remembers one’s spiritual roots. After the story, Peter Al-Kalek, a Palestinian NSWAS member began to play Palestinian folk songs on the oud. Impromptu, Raida Hatib joined words to his music, and soon others began to sing too.

Well into the evening, people flowed in and out of the sukkah, enjoying music, coffee and conversation.

The courtyard of the spiritual centre building, transformed into a succah
Iftar meal, in the succah
Shai Schwartz, telling a story [photo: J. Steinhardt]
Peter playing the oud, Raida singing [photo: J. Steinhardt]

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