Sukkot (סוכות) is  called the happiest Jewish holiday of the year. It comes in the Autumn (סתיו), when the weather is cooling down, and the mornings and evenings are cool and comfortable. It is a time for families (משפחות) to get together, visiting friends, and eating good food in the Sukka. The holiday of Sukkot lasts for seven days, and during this time, Israelis take off from work to spend quality time with family and friends.

What is a Sukka?

A Sukka is a temporary hut or structure that is built outside the house either on a porch (מרפסת) or in an open place. There are many Jewish laws about where a sukka can be built.  One of the most important laws is that the area above the roof (גג) of the sukka has to be clear of all obstructions.

What do you do in a Sukka?

According to Jewish custom,  you have to eat (לאכול) and sleep (לשון) in the sukka.  This is what makes it a temporary “dwelling.”   Many people have the custom not to take trips during this time, and to study Torah in the Sukka.  Others travel, eating meals only in a Sukka.  A lot of restaurants in Israel build a Sukka so that their customers can do the Mitzva (מצווה)  of eating in a sukka even when not at home.

Etrog, Lulav, Myrtle, and Willow

The Etrog (אתרוג), Lulav,(לולב) Myrtle,(הדסים) and Willow (ערבה) are very important symbols for Sukkot. These are waved everyday while praying, in the synagogue. Each has different attibutes, the Etrog is a lemon type fruit with a very thick skin, the Lulav is an immature palm branch. When you wave the Lulav, it makes a sound. The Myrtle is a branch with small leaves and has a nice smell. The Willow branch has neither taste or smell. We bless them all together to symbolize all the attributes (סמל) of a human being.

Vocabulary of Sukkot