ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
The weeklong Jewish festival of Sukkot begins tonight. Jews around the world build small huts, or sukkos, reminders of the temporary shelters used during the exodus from Egypt. Orthodox Jews eat all of their meals and even sleep in them. But in Jerusalem right now, a different kind of sukka is on display.
NPR's Linda Gradstein paid a visit.
LINDA GRADSTEIN: It's Hansel and Gretel meets Jerusalem. A huge hut, or sukka, made partly out of candy has been built in a large plaza outside the Jerusalem municipality. At the entrance, two hollow, clear, plastic pillars are filled with a rainbow of colored bubble gum, chewy toffees and lollipops. Inside, two cotton candy machines are turning out wispy cones of sugar in pink and blue. The lights on the ceiling are shaped like candy and banks of candy machines spill jellybeans and gum into small eager hands.
Mayor Uri Lupolianski is manning the chocolate fountain, dipping marshmallows on sticks into the warm cascading chocolate and handing them over to excited children. He says the idea is to make Jerusalem's children happy over the holiday.
Mayor URI LUPOLIANSKI (Jerusalem, Israel): Here we have, thank God, the biggest sukka in the world. We invite all the children with their parents to come to the municipality sukka and to happy with everything here that is very sweet.
GRADSTEIN: It certainly seems to be working. Eleven-year-old Elisheva Lipner is grinning from ear to ear.
Ms. ELISHEVA LIPNER: They should have it more often.
GRADSTEIN: What's the best part?
Ms. LIPNER: The candies.
(Soundbite of laughter)
GRADSTEIN: She says she wants her parents to build one just like this at home.
It's also a hit with tourists like Alex Eidelman from Boston.
Mr. ALEX EIDELMAN (Tourist): It's great. I'm visiting here for a few months and it's nice to have finally able to connect with something that the city is actually doing. So I'm really enjoying it and, of course, there's cotton candy, which is a big plus.
GRADSTEIN: Jerusalem city officials say they expect to give away some two tons of candy during the weeklong holiday. There's been no comment yet from Israel's dentists.
Linda Gradstein, NPR News, Jerusalem.
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