Suggestion for a secondary school assembly

I wonder whether you like having a meal out of doors?
Perhaps you enjoy picnics?

Some of you may have had a holiday abroad in a warm country and had your lunch and evening meals out of doors at your hotel or at a cafe. At this time of year Orthodox Jews make a point - even when they are at home - of eating their meal - and especially their evening meal - outside, usually in some sort of shelter close to the house but open to the sky or with a roof just made of branches. This is, for Jews, the time of Succot, a special celebration which lasts for seven days and which has two main aspects.

It reminds Jews of the shelter that God provided for them when they left Egypt to seek their own land, and it reminds Jews of the food that God provided. So it is, in part, a celebration of harvest. Jews hang fruits and vegetables from the roof and walls of their special dining area to signify their gratitude for harvest. It is important for Jews that their families, and perhaps their friends, gather together for these al fresco meals. Do you know the term al fresco? It means out of doors. Harvest is celebrated by Christians today by decorating churches and chapels with sheaves of corn, fruits, vegetables and flowers. But Christians too often celebrate by having a harvest supper which is a get-together for the members of the congregation. In country areas the supper is sometimes held in the barn of a farm, bringing people close to the farming families whose hard work ensures the harvest. Both Jews and Christians think a lot about the harvest just at this time, and both give thanks to God for the good things that are grown so that we can eat.

Find out more about the Jewish celebration of Succot