All About Sukkot

What is Sukkot?

Sukkot is an autumn harvest Festival beginning on the fifteenth day of the month of Tishrei. The Torah instructs, “For seven days you shall dwell in tents, so that your descendants shall know that I made the children of Israel dwell in tents when I brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 25:33 – 44).

Today, in Remembrance of our ancestors who wandered in the wilderness, we build sukkot, temporary and moveable structures, with roofs covered by branches so that the light of the stars and the full moon can shine through. To mark the harvest, the sukkah is usually decorated with seasonal fruits and vegetables. The book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) is read on Sukkot, in part reflecting the fragility of the world in autumn.

This joyous celebration, following the more reflective period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, offers us a chance to reconnect with our friends, with our children, and with the earth. It is also customary to invite ushpizin (ancestral visitors) to join us in the sukkah. The quiet peacefulness of the sukkah can be a shelter from the many distractions of our technological age, with opportunities to eat organic, locally grown, sustainably farmed fruits and vegetables in praise of, and with respect for, the abundant world around us.

What is a sukkah?

A booths or hut (the plural in Hebrew is “sukkot”) in which Jews are supposed to dwell during the week-long celebration of Sukkot.

According to rabbinic tradition, these tent-like structures represent the huts in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after escaping from slavery in Egypt. The festival of Sukkot is one of the three pilgrimage festivals of the Jewish year.

The rabbis of the Talmud stipulated that a sukkah should have at least three walls and a covering. The walls can be of any material, but should be sturdy enough to withstand an ordinary wind. The roof should be made out of thatch or branches, which provides some shade and protection from the sun, but also allows the stars to be seen at night.

It is traditional to decorate the sukkah and hang fruit and fragrant plants inside. During the holiday, Jews traditionally spend as much time in the sukkah as possible. Weather permitting, meals are eaten in the sukkah, and some people even to choose to sleep in the sukkah.

How we are celebrating Sukkot at USF?

  • Farm stand in the sukkah; Tuesday, October 3, 11:45-1pm
  • Open Door Sukkot / Skywatchers; Tuesday, October 3, 6:30-8pm
  • Multi-faith peace service; Wednesday, October 4, 12-1pm
  • JCCSF Shabbat, Friday, October 6, 5-7pm

Here is a list of events being hosted by JSSJ this semester.

Here is a digital copy of the Radical Hospitality Sukkot Booklet that will be used as part of the Multi-Faith Peace Service in the Sukkah.

Listen to the first episode, Sukkot: Stories on Inclusion with JEDI Leaders of Tzadikim: Conversations About Judaism & Social Justice, a podcast hosted by the JSSJ program.

Here is the video recording of the first episode of the Tzadikim podcast: