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Tishrei 15-21, September/October

The seven-day holiday of Sukkot represents a transition from the somber mood of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur to rejoicing and celebrating the harvest. Sukkot usually is translated as “Tabernacles” or the “Festival of Booths.”

Sukkot is a pilgrimage festival, tied to our agricultural roots and the harvest. In biblical times, Sukkot drew pilgrims from all over Israel to Jerusalem for elaborate Temple rites.

The Torah offers three commandments for Sukkot in Leviticus (Vayikra) 23:40-43:

The most important of these is to build and live in a booth or sukkah (plural: sukkot), a temporary structure that we treat as our home during the festival. The roof must be made of organic materials and provide shade but retain the ability to see stars in the sky. It is customary to invite guests to the sukkah.

We also gather four species: etrog (citron, a fruit similar to a lemon), and branches of the lulav (palm tree), myrtle, and willow. A blessing is said as one holds and shakes the four species.

Finally, we rejoice, celebrating the completion of the harvest and our season of repentance.

“…You shall take the fruit of majestic trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days… You shall live in booths for seven days…so that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt…” Leviticus (Vayikra) 23:40-43.

Press play to hear the pronunciation: