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All About the Sukkah

Why do many Jews in Israel, and around the world sleep outside in a wooden structure called a "sukkah" during the holiday of Sukkot? Read more about the culture and customs that take place in the sukkah below!

Jewish men praying at the Western Wall holding a lulav and etrog on Sukkot

On Sukkot, Jewish men are obligated to eat and sleep in the sukkah, even though the women do not have this obligation, the majority choose to eat and sleep in their sukkah as well. In fact, almost all practices and activities during Sukkot are centered around the sukkah.

So what is the symbolism of the sukkah? It's meant to symbolize the time the Jews spent in the desert after being freed from Egypt.

The Meal in the Sukkah

The festive meal in the sukkah traditionally has lots of food from the harvest - fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh-baked challah, and sweet cakes and cookies for dessert. Since the food has to be carried outside to the sukkah, it has to be easy to carry from the kitchen -- anything goes on Sukkot, but make sure it's easy to bring outside!

Sleeping in the Sukkah

Jewish people don't just eat in the sukkah -- some sleep in the sukkah too! Sukkot falls during one of the most beautiful times of the year in terms of weather in Israel, so it seems like it would actually be a lovely experience to sleep outside in the sukkah, gazing at the stars through the bamboo or palm branch roof. Kind of like camping in your own backyard -- and who doesn't love the sound of that?

Decorating the Sukkah

If you are going to be spending seven days eating and potentially sleeping in a sukkah, you will want it to be comfortable of course! Some families go all out with their sukkah decorating. A must is a table large enough for the family and several guests, maybe some rugs to make the floor comfortable, and twinkling string lights. Some families hang pictures of rabbis or of the Jewish forefathers. Then of course the kids contribute their decorations -- paperchains, paintings, and just about anything to add life and color to the temporary dwelling!

Are you excited for Sukkot? Make sure to spend some time in the sukkah!


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