Millions of people joining together to show solidarity, unity, shared values and mores. Add to such a gathering a march ("everybody loves a parade") and you have a "Unity March." Such events have been around for as long as there have been causes under whose banner people wish to unite.
Jewish people, too, from all locations and walks of life, have various times of year when they join together to show solidarity, unity, and shared values. In fact, certain festivals, such as the upcoming holidays of Sukkot and Simchat Torah, are traditionally times of massive gatherings and marches.
Sukkot in particular, is also called Chag HaAssif, the holiday of Gathering. And though this term commonly refers to the gathering of produce, it reminds us that Sukkot is a time of gathering together of all Jews, in unity and brotherhood.
Yes, the upcoming Jewish holidays of Sukkot and Simchat Torah have been encouraging "unity" marches since their inception thousands of years ago.
On Sukkot during the Hoshana prayer we march around the bima, holding high the lulav and etrog in a special display of pride and triumph. On Simchat Torah we march and dance with the Torah scrolls, round and round the synagogue, with the festivities often spilling out into the streets.
In their own unique way, these two "marches" unite all Jews, whether young or old, simple or wise, knowledgable or unlearned.
This show of unity on Sukkot and Simchat Torah is a constant, albeit subtle, theme of these holidays.
Sukka: Whether you make a Sukka of cloth, wood, plastic or a "Sukka- mobile"; whether your Sukka has the obligatory 2-1/2, 3 or 4 walls, whether you eat in your Sukka or in a friend's, every Sukka is a Sukka. And all Jews are enjoined to participate in the mitzva of "dwelling" in the Sukka, regardless of affiliation, education or family pedigree.
Interestingly, Jewish tradition teaches that at the time of the Redemption, all Jews will sit together in one tremendous and universal Sukka made from the skin of the Leviathan fish. At that time the oneness of the Jewish people will be openly revealed and we will see how all Jews are fit to dwell in a single Sukka.
The Four Kinds: One of the most famous lessons from the mitzva of the "Four Kinds" (the lulav-palm, etrog-citron, willow and myrtle) is that they represent four different types of Jews. And yet, on the holiday of Sukkot, differences and disparity are not reasons for polarization but rather, as is done with this special mitzva, the four different kinds (of plants, or Jews) are brought together, bound together, and blessed together. And the mitzva can-not be performed if even one "kind" is missing, just as the Jewish people are not complete or united, if even one "kind" of Jew is missing.
Ushpizin-Divine Guests: On the holiday of Sukkot we invite the Ushpizin, the Seven Shepherds of the Jewish People, to join us in our Sukkot. The Ushpizin enter every Sukka where they are invited and welcome. And on Sukkot, when we leave the comfort of our homes and dwell in the new surroundings of the Sukka for seven days, we are all like guests--but guests of One Host, G-d.
Simchat Beit Hashoeiva: In the times of the Holy Temple, a special joyous ceremony was performed in connection with the drawing of water and a water offering on the holiday of Sukkot. Today, each evening of Sukkot, we rejoice in commemoration of the ancient celebrations. Simchat Beit Hashoeiva brings out the pure, wholesome joy in a mitzva that is the inheritance of every, single Jew. And being around other people who are joyous engenders a feeling of unity that far surpasses anything else.
May we soon experience the true unity of the Jewish people with each other, with G-d, and with all of Creation in the Ultimate Redemption.