Water-Drawing Festival

Water-Drawing Festival

Begins between September 20 and October 18; night following the first day of Sukkot and each night of the festival thereafter
The name of this ancient Jewish festival comes from Isaiah 12:3, which says, "Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." The water-drawing ceremony, also known as Simhat bet ha-Sho'evah, was a matter of dispute between Pharisees, who regarded it as an oral tradition handed down from Sinai, and the Sadducees, who saw no basis for it and often showed outright contempt for the entire ritual. The more the Sadducees opposed it, the more emphasis the Pharisees placed on the water libation, which was considered a particularly joyful occasion and was performed in the temple on the night following the first day of Sukkot and then on each remaining night of the festival. Huge bonfires were lit throughout Jerusalem and the people stayed up dancing and singing for most of the night, often dozing off on each other's shoulders.
There have been attempts to revive the water-drawing festival in a more modern form, primarily among Israel's contemporary kibbutzim, or agricultural communities.
CONTACTS:
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
11 Broadway
New York, NY 10004
212-563-4000; fax: 212-564-9058
www.ou.org
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