Gathering Schach (Roof Covering for the Sukkah), Jerusalem, 1955
The photograph, taken by the photographer Eddie Hirschbein, shows a group of ultra-orthodox Jews checking the palm branches for their Sukkah. Above the palm branches is a poster requesting people to dress modestly when entering the neighbourhood.
This photograph was probably taken in a Haredi (ultra-orthodox) neighbourhood in Jerusalem, judging by the stones and the building. The people portrayed are Hassidic Jews dressed in the typical clothes they wear for reasons of modesty and tradition. Ultra-orthodox Jews are very sensitive to the way people dress which explains the poster above the palm branches.
During the festival of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), Jews are commanded to leave their permanent homes and live in temporary dwellings (Sukkot) for seven days. The purpose of the Sukkah is to provide shade, and it must therefore, according to Jewish law, be constructed under the sky. The roof covering (schach) should be made of plant material and must provide more shade than light during the day but with enough gaps to see the stars at night. In Israel, the JNF (Jewish National Fund) invite people to come and take schach for free from some of their forests.
Teachers of Jewish Studies could use this photograph as trigger in lessons about Sukkot and the specific requirements of the festival.
The photograph could also be used in lessons about the Haredi community and their traditional customs and clothing.
Teachers of Communications or Media Studies could focus on different means of public information with particular reference to the poster in the photograph.
What do you see in the photograph?
Who are the people in the photograph?
What are they doing?
Where are they?
How do you know?
Reading Between the Lines
What is schach?
What is it used for?
What are the requirements of schach?
What are the requirements of a Sukkah?
What are the central themes and commandments of Sukkot?
What does the poster above the palm branches request?
Why do Haredi Jews dress in this way?
Why do they demand that people dress modestly in their neighbourhoods?
Do they have a right to ask such a thing?
Do posters like this still exist today?
How does the Haredi community communicate today? (Take a look at this link From Wikipedia)
Do they communicate differently to you and your community?
If so, how and why?
What are some of the other characteristics of Haredi Judaism?
Have you ever sat in a Sukkah?
What was it like? Did you enjoy it?
Describe your thoughts.
Have you ever built a Sukkah?
Describe the process.
Have you ever been to a Haredi neighbourhood?
Where was it?
How was it similar to your neighbourhood?
How was it different?
What are the similarities or differences between you and a Haredi schoolchild?
Design an illustrated guide to building a Sukkah.
Write a guidebook for someone visiting a Haredi neighbourhood: what to wear, what to expect, how to behave, etc.