Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Daily Adventures in Asian Food & Film

Chopstick Cinema

This Week’s Film: Ushpizin
Cuisine: Jewish/Israeli

Tonight’s full moon marks the beginning of Sukkot, the week-long Jewish celebration of the autumn harvest. Also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot begins on the fifth day after Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and includes an interesting tradition, the construction of sukkah, temporary outdoor shelters, which may be built with any material, as long as the roof is made from something natural, such as palm fronds or tree branches.

Sukkah are often decorated with a harvest motif, and throughout the week of the Sukkot celebration, meals and other activities are carried out in these outdoor shelters, which commemorate the portable dwellings that the Israelites lived in during their exodus from Egypt. At this time, it is customary for families to invite relatives, friends, and neighbors to join them for their celebratory meals in the sukkah.

The Sukkot celebration includes many other traditions, including prayers, special foods, and the invitation of seven ‘spiritual guests’ known as “ushpizin”, from which the name of this week’s feature film is derived. The seven spiritual guests are the Seven Shepherds of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David. Living guests, including family, friends, and those who might otherwise be alone, are also invited to join in the celebration.

Fittingly, traditional dishes include lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, and dishes that are typically served filled or stuffed to symbolize abundance. Menu choices may include vegetables filled with breaded stuffing, potato or meat-filled knishes, kreplach dumplings, gefilte fish, and filled challah bread.

My recipe will be posted at the end of the week, along with my film review.

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