It’s that time of year when those odd looking, ramshackle huts appear on every other porch and yard in Jewish neighborhoods around the world.
The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, is the eight day festival when all meals are taken in these makeshift abodes. Constructed out of wood, fiberglass, cloth or every which material, but sized according to rabbinic specs, the Sukkahs are topped by bamboo and pine-thatched roofs sparse enough for the stars to peek through at night.
Sukkot begins tonight (Wednesday, September 29) and concludes with Simchat Torah which runs into Shabbat, Saturday, October 9. In contrast to the somber high holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the spirit of this festival is decidedly joyful with lots of mirth and merrymaking.
Another indicator of Sukkot is the prevalence of the lulav, or palm branch bound with myrtle and willow, that is taken with the etrog, the citron–that lemon-look-alike. These four species—symbolic of our embrace of the varieties among our people—are held together and blessed daily during Sukkot.
Sukkahs come in all varieties. There are small, one-person capacity pop-up Sukkahs for the traveling observer who won’t even eat on the run outside a Sukkah, mobile Sukkahs like the one on the Chabad gondola in Venice, Italy, or the largest one we know of, in Kfar Chabad, Israel, big enough to hold 900 people. In the course of the eight-day holiday, Lubavitch.com will feature some of the coolest models constructed by our Chabad centers around the world.