15 Tishri 5777 / October 16-23, 2016
Sukkot, a Hebrew word meaning "booths" or "huts," refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest, as well as the commemoration of the forty years of Jewish wandering in the desert after Sinai. Sukkot is celebrated five days after Yom Kippur on the 15th of Tishri and is marked by several distinct traditions. One tradition, which takes the commandment to "dwell in booths" literally, is to build a sukkah, a booth or hut. A sukkah is often erected by Jews during this festival, and it is common practice for some to eat and even live in these temporary dwellings during Sukkot. Read more about the history and customs of Sukkot. See below for Sukkot celebration ideas from our Festival Committee.
Take Sukkot Home With You!
What is Sukkot? Our lovely autumn festival lasts for seven days. It commemorates the huts that our ancestors used while wandering in the desert, and it also celebrates the harvest. Traditions for observing this holiday at home include building and decorating a sukkah, having a lulav and etrog, extending hospitality, and practicing tzedakah.
But how can city dwellers celebrate a harvest festival? The Festival Committee has brainstormed some ideas for you. The first thing we realized is that we have to be flexible and think outside the box! You don’t have to actually build a sukkah if that’s too much; it’s not the only way to go. There are simple alternatives that will bring this festival to life. (If you DO want to learn how to create a sukkah in a small space, check out the resources below for some simple suggestions.) The Festival Committee has generated the following easy ways for you to bring the festival into your home and your heart.
- Make or buy holiday decorations for your home. We have located the best web sites for this, but feel free to browse on your own. The sites we like are: jewishcrafts.com, babaganewz.com, Judaism.com, zerach.com, and jewish-history.com.
- Order a lulav and etrog to adorn your table. Use the above websites.
- A great way to entertain is to have a holiday gathering for your family and friends. Include seasonal offerings, such as cider and donuts. If you have a sukkah, make it a sukkah party. Guests love to examine a sukkah and are charmed by its uniqueness and beauty. If you don’t have a sukkah, decorate your dining area and party space with holiday-centered items.
- Include some holiday music.
- Start an annual autumn picnic that emphasizes the beauty of the harvest. Take a picnic to the park or use your terrace, if you have one. Emphasize that this is a Sukkot picnic and talk about the holiday. This can include your immediate family, or you can make it a large gathering in the park for everyone you know.
- Tzedakah is one of the hallmarks of our tradition. Donate to your favorite cause. Make a special trip to the Yorkville Common Pantry or the Temple soup kitchen and donate a can or box of food. Include your children in these activities! If you have a holiday party, include a tzedakah box for those who wish to observe this tradition.
- Check out recipes for seasonal treats, such as apple turnovers, pumpkin bread, or squash soup. A quick Google search will net hundreds of recipes.
- Build a sukkah! See the resources below.
Choose at least one action to perpetuate each year to create a tradition for your family that will make this lovely holiday come alive in a way that is personal to you.
Our only caveat is: Don’t do nothing! Do something, however small.
There are many ways to go if you want to have a sukkah. You can have a tent, a wooden hut, a popup bubble, a plastic enclosure, or you can simulate the whole thing indoors.
Judaism.com offers a variety of options. None require tools or actual building. Here is one--a classic sukkah with an interlocking frame construction:
Here is another one from Judaism.com that requires no tools, folds down to an inch, and claims to pop up in seconds:
If you have no outdoor space and are willing to improvise inside, it is possible to create an indoor sukkah.
If you really want to get into the spirit and build a sukkah from scratch, click here for the best guidelines we found from My Jewish Learning.
Also check out sukkahs.com, esrogheadquarters.com, and conduct your own search. There are a lot of options out there. One of them will work for you!