“Speak unto B’nei Yisrael, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of Tent of Meetings for seven days unto Hashem.” Leviticus 23:34 (The Israel Bible™)
The Hebrew month of Tishrei (which this year falls within the month of October) is Biblically recognized as the easiest time of the year to build a relationship with God as the month is replete with extra opportunities for prayer and holy activities.
Tishrei begins with the two-day Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah. Ten days later, Yom Kippur arrives, a time when the entire day is spent praying and refraining from food and drink. Three days later, the festive holiday of the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot, is in full swing for seven days (eight days outside of the Land of Israel) and then there is the holiday of Simchat Torah, when the Jewish people rejoice in God’s giving of the Bible.
“Though the Jewish people are grateful that God has chosen us to spend nearly an entire month busily fulfilling His mitzvot [commandments] and building a relationship with the Almighty, the extra expenses which come along with these multitudes of holidays and mitzvot is daunting to thousands of Israelis,” shared Rabbi Shmuel Lipsker, administrator for Colel Chabad, Israel’s 228 year-old charity, with Breaking Israel News. “Our Colel Chabad team is working round-the-clock to ensure that everyone has a meaningful and joyful New Year.”
Colel Chabad maintains 24 soup kitchens throughout the Holy Land. Every day, 4,260 people are fed fresh, nourishing meals. “Our kitchens remain open 365 days a year,” explained Rabbi Lipsker. “Hunger never takes a break so we don’t either.”
For Yom Kippur, in order to ensure that people do not fast for two days in a row, which is a real possibility for thousands of poor Israelis, Colel Chabad kitchens served a special pre-Yom Kippur meal. Following the 25 hour Biblical fast, their kitchens were once again actively serving a break-fast meal. “For those who cannot get to our kitchens, we deliver their food to them,” continued Rabbi Lipsker. “Every life is precious and should be nurtured.”
The holiday of Sukkot is even more involved, requiring special Torah commandments.
Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. (Leviticus 23:40)
This full week of festivities involves building and dwelling in a special outdoor booth called a sukkah, acquiring 4 special types of foliage, and rejoicing. “Colel Chabad not only ensures that people do not go hungry, we also do all that we can to help those who want to fulfill the mitzvot of Sukkot,” Rabbi Lipsker told Breaking Israel News.
Every Colel Chabad kitchen has a Sukkah available for people to enjoy. Colel Chabad has purchased hundreds of sets of the 4 special species so people have what they need to do God’s will. They are also providing music and entertainment so people will feel joyous during the holiday. “After all, God commanded us to be happy, especially during Sukkot!” smiled Rabbi Lipsker.
At several Colel Chabad locations, 90 percent of their clientele are Holocaust survivors. “We pray for the wellbeing of every person,” Rabbi Lipsker said. “Yet, especially for survivors, providing them with a place to enjoy the holidays with dignity, love and care and helping them to fulfill God’s commandments is particularly meaningful.”
Donations to support Colel Chabad’s holy work may be made here.