Not In Jersey: It’s Sukkah Time! It’s Sukkah Time! - Not In Jersey

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It’s Sukkah Time!

Last year I shared an entire post dedicated to the building of our Sukkah. And then another post where I explained a bit more about the Sukkot holiday and shared our decorations. Well, this year everything is about the same, but I’m sharing it again!


Sukkot has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival.


The word “Sukkot” means "booths," and refers to the temporary dwellings that we are commanded to live in during this holiday in memory of the period of wandering. The Hebrew pronunciation of Sukkot is “Sue COAT,” but is often pronounced as in Yiddish, to rhyme with “BOOK us.”


In honor of the holiday's historical significance, we are commanded to dwell in temporary shelters, as our ancestors did in the wilderness. The temporary shelter is referred to as a sukkah (which is the singular form of the plural word "sukkot"). Like the word sukkot, it can be pronounced like Sue-KAH, or to rhyme with Book-a.


The sukkah is great fun for the children. Building the sukkah each year satisfies the common childhood fantasy of building a fort, and dwelling in the sukkah satisfies a child’s desire to camp out in the backyard. The commandment to “dwell” in a sukkah can be fulfilled by simply eating all of one’s meals there; however, if the weather, climate, and one’s health permit, one should spend as much time in the sukkah as possible, including sleeping in it.


The “walls”of the sukkah do not have to be solid; canvas covering tied or nailed down is acceptable and quite common in the United States. A sukkah may be any size, so long as it is large enough for you to fulfill the commandment of dwelling in it. The roof of the sukkah must be made of material referred to as sekhakh (literally, covering). To fulfill the commandment, sekhakh must be something that grew from the ground and was cut off, such as tree branches, corn stalks, bamboo reeds, sticks, or two-by-fours.


It is common practice, and highly commendable, to decorate the sukkah. In the northeastern United States, Jews commonly hang dried squash and corn in the sukkah to decorate it, because these vegetables are readily available at that time for the American holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Many families hang artwork drawn by the children on the walls. Building and decorating a sukkah is a fun family project. [source for all the information].

New this year, we added to the outside part which opens in order to enter the sukkah:
Both of these signs say “Welcome.” The very colorful one is Gabbie’s and the bottom is Zachary’s, both made this year.

Simon also wanted to hang his apple on this same wall.

Zachary also colored and labeled this diagram of a sukkah with the Hebrew words for sukkah, table, wall, door, and the roof. I didn’t hang it in the sukkah because it isn’t laminated. It’s been raining and already the red ball that was hanging in the center of the ceiling has fallen down!

I will not be online again until Saturday night, but if you have any questions I’d be happy to respond to them when I return!


Breenah said...

I really love learning about all of this. I had a friend from elementary through high school who is Jewish and when we were young her mom would come in and talk to us about Hanukkah, but that's about the extent of my knowledge.

Janine Huldie said...

Thank you for always being so kind to share this with us. I will admit being Catholic I don't know much about this holiday at all. But I honestly loved learning about the origins, the celebration and seeing all your pictures.

Dara said...

many people think Hanukkah is our most important holiday since that's all they ever learned about - just because it is close to christmas in the calendar!

Dara said...

glad you enjoyed it.

Leslie said...

It looks great again this year! I especially love the decorations made by the kids. Enjoy your holiday.

Elisabeth H said...

You know I always enjoy reading your posts like this one. When I'm at church and we have lessons about Jewish customs like this one (which, btw, we had very recently) I almost always can mentally picture one of your posts where you were sharing that with us. I like being able to make those connections. I remember when we were discussing the Festival of Booths, it was mentioned that many Jews still make those today and in my mind I was like, "Yes, I know!!! My friend Dara and her family does." It made me smile. :-)

Kera @ Nugget On A Budget said...

Enjoy the holiday Dara! Again, I love learning about your traditions and how they are celebrated. Growing up in PA, we didn't have off school for Jewish holidays, so I was not aware of them, but now living in NY, I like to know what each holiday stands for as our kids will eventually have off of school in honor of them. I love that you actually get to build a shelter and "live" in there for a majority of time. I bet the kids love getting to decorate it and it's probably fun for all of you to spend this time together.

Sara said...

Thanks for sharing. When you mentioned this yesterday on your blog i had no idea what it was. this seems like such a fun holiday to celebrate. I love all the artwork hanging that the kids made.

Desiree @ Macke Monologues said...

I loved learning about your tradition! I used to work for a family who had a sukkah in their back yard and I was too shy to ask about it. Enjoy the holiday!

mail4rosey said...

What a wonderful thing that this can be done in celebratory mode rather than necessity. It's really a big thing. The things people do to each other, for any number of unfounded reasons, will never cease to amaze me.

Christy Garrett said...

This is neat and I am glad that you are sharing the tradition with your children.

Melissa Lea-Wood said...

Oh I lived this post, I really love adding about your Jewish heritage and traditions, it's fascinating

Christa @ Mom, Paper, Scissors said...

This is a great post! Thanks for sharing all your traditions and teaching me a few things! :)

Annie @ Annie One Can Cook! said...

Agh, I'm FINALLY able to catch up on my friends blogs--it's about time!!

Love this post--I learned so much! The Sukkah is beautiful and I love the history, artwork, and lights. Looks like the kids really enjoyed it, too!! Thanks for sharing!

Dara said...

thanks! I am glad you enjoyed it, and yes the kids love it!

Desiree @ Macke Monologues said...

I wish the family I worked for lived there. They live in L.A. And, L.A. has a very large Jewish population. So, I've seen LOTS of the sukkahs, but I didn't know what they were, until now! :)

Dara said...

yup L.A. does have a much larger Jewish population than we do, lol!

Shoshanah G said...

I used to love having a sukkah in the backyard growing up. I've yet to make one as an actually "grown up" but I'm sure once we have kids I'll make it happen. My brother and I used to always want to sleep with our parents in the sukkah but I don't believe it ever happened. We did wind up eating in it quite a bit though.

Dara said...

I actually never had one growing up!