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Monday, October 08, 2007

Sukkot in Lubavitch Crown Heights: A Time for Dancing and Singing

Celebration Covers Six Blocks; Men, Women Dance Separately

By Sharon Udasin
Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle
CROWN HEIGHTS — Sparkling confetti and children’s plastic glow-toys dazzled the air on Kingston Avenue Sunday night as black-clad men danced in jumbled circles till 6:30 a.m., during their weeklong celebrations that follow the Jewish holiday Sukkot.
The festivities began Saturday evening and continued through last night, according to the 71st Precinct. During Chol Hamoed — the days between the onset of Sukkot and the holiday Simchat Torah — Jews of all denominations gather together to celebrate in Crown Heights, said Ben Lifshitz, the creator of a community news source, crownheights.info.
The festive dancing and singing commemorates certain festivities from the Biblical era, when the Israelites were able to miraculously find water during their 40 years of wandering in the desert, Lifshitz said.
“The dancing is a derivative,” he added. “The actual event is that they drew the water.” The “sukkot” themselves, or booths, also commemorate that historical period, in which the ancient Israelites lived in temporary booths as they struggled to reach the promised land.
A band called the Piamenta Brothers guided the revelers, playing everything from traditional Jewish folk music to “La Marseillaise.”
“I come every night because it’s interesting for me — you see people dancing; it’s fun,” said Moshe Friedman, 19, from the Babov sect of Hasidim in Borough Park.
The festival mainly proceeds without disorder, and the visible police presence simply maintains order and security, Lifshitz said. However, he pointed out the significant decrease in police officers from previous years, explaining that many officers were temporarily reassigned to cover the United Nations area in Manhattan.
“There’s a large presence of us,” Lifshitz said, confident that crime will not disturb the celebrations. “You get a bunch of troublemakers coming in, but other than that it’s usually peace and quiet,” confirmed Nossy Slater, 26, a volunteer for the Shomrim Crown Heights Rescue Patrol.
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