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Due to COVID, no open house for Sukkot at President’s Residence

CM 05/09/2021

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It has long been a tradition for the President of the State of Israel to open the official residence to the public on one of the intermediate days of Sukkot. The event is held in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, and sometimes  with the Ministry of Industry or the Ministry of Science and the Innovation Authority.
Prior to the festival schoolchildren help the President to decorate the Sukkah.

President Herzog addressing the foreign diplomatic corps. (credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)President Herzog addressing the foreign diplomatic corps. (credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

In addition to exhibits on open day, there is also entertainment, and visitors get to meet and greet their president, though not as easily with Presidents Reuven Rivlin and Shimon Peres as with their  predecessors who used to stand in the Sukkah and shake hands with every visitor. This custom was not followed by Peres and Rivlin, who simply emerged a couple of times to make a brief speech, and were then whisked away again by staff.
Given the fact that several thousand people who included babies and very senior citizens used to come to the president’s open house, the Health Ministry has advised that it could be dangerous to health during the period of the pandemic, to have so many people, not all of whom have been vaccinated, coming together.
President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal had been looking forward to opening the residence on Sukkot during their first year there, because the President’s Residence is symbolically the home of the People.
Not only that, but hospitality is one of the traditions of Sukkot, and as far as the Herzogs were concerned, it was also a platform for closer relations between the president and his wife and the citizens of Israel.
But these are troubled times, and the value of human life and the health of each and every individual, outweigh other considerations.
There is some compensation. The Visitors’ Center at the President’s Residence will continue to function during the intermediate days of the holiday, with limited numbers of people permitted to enter at any one time.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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