The Columbus Jewish Day School in New Albany observed Sukkot by making kites to fly in a celebration Sept. 23.

The Columbus Jewish Day School in New Albany observed Sukkot by making kites to fly in a celebration Sept. 23.

This year, Sukkot was celebrated from sunset Sept. 18 to nightfall Sept. 25.

The festival, known as the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles, recognizes the 40 years the Jewish people spent traveling to the land of Canaan after leaving captivity in Egypt, according to Rabbi Howard Apothaker of Temple Beth Shalom, which is not affiliated with Columbus Jewish Day School.

During that journey, they lived in temporary shelters -- sukkot -- made of natural materials, Apothaker said.

Apothaker said the festival is mentioned in the Bible as the "central Jewish holiday."

The festival is described in chapter 23 of the book of Leviticus.

Tal Mars, 11, a Columbus Jewish Day School sixth-grader from Bexley, said students are supposed to spend time in a sukkah, the singular form of the plural sukkot, learning about the four "species" of natural materials that are used in the celebration: willow, palm, myrtle and citron.

The four species often are used to symbolically represent characteristics of human behavior, Apothaker said.

Yoav Kolka, 11, a sixth-grader from New Albany, said the willow represents people who don't like to do much because it has no smell and no taste.

Palm fronds represent people who are active in the community but not well learned because it has a taste and no smell, Kolka said.

Myrtle represents people who are not active in the community but who are well learned because it has a smell and no taste, he said.

Citron, which has a good smell and taste, represents people who are active and well learned, Kolka said.

The kites were made part of the celebration because of the school's study of author Janusz Korczak, who called a kite "a gift of wind to the child" while operating an orphanage during World War II, said Rachel Hillman, the school's marketing director.

Korczak used kites to distract the children from the reality of the Holocaust, Hillman said.

The wind also is referenced in a prayer recited during Sukkot that says, "God causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall," Hillman said.

Hillman said students helped assemble the sukkot outside the school and each student made their own kite out of wood and plastic.

The Columbus Jewish Day School has 100 students in kindergarten to sixth grade who live in several central Ohio communities, including Bexley, Dublin, Clintonville, Grove City, New Albany and Powell, said Judy Miller, head of school.