Sukkot

Sukkot, or Feast of Booths, is celebrated from the 15th through the 21st of the Hebrew month of Tishrei (usually October), and is one of the three pilgrimage holidays, on which Jews made pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem.

The holiday commemorates the booths in which the Israelites lived in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. A sukka is a temporary dwelling, usually with wooden or cloth walls on at least three of its four sides and a roof made of tree branches (traditionally palm fronds) through which the sky can be seen.

Sukkot is also known as the Harvest holiday, as it is celebrated in the autumn, after the summer harvest and before the planting of winter crops. A central theme in the holiday prayers is rain: the farmers thank God for this year’s harvest and pray for rain for the coming year.

The first day and last days are particularly festive: the first is a holy day, a rest day, when no productive work is allowed, similar to Shabbat, so most businesses are closed; the eighth day from the beginning of Sukkot is called Shemini Atseret, is a separate holiday. The intermediate days are similar to weekdays.

sukkot

 

Holiday Customs

Building a Sukka - The sukka (booth) is customarily decorated with various fruits, paper cutouts and pictures. You will see sukkas built in the yards (or on the balconies) of all observant Jews and many secular Jews as well.

The four species - These are four types of plants (palm shoot, willow and myrtle branches and citron) used in ceremonial blessings on each day of the holiday, except Shabbat.

Important Information

Apart from the two rest days, when businesses are closed, the intermediate days are semi-holy days, and many businesses, particularly offices, operate in the mornings only. Some businesses are closed the entire week, as many Israeli families also take vacations this time of year.