What's your favorite memory of Sukkot?
Looking back at memories of past High Holidays, we have many good experiences to recall. Our expectations of the coming holiday are often related and built upon those fond memories.
Sukkot is a favorite holiday among many, since it's a special time. Family and friends come together, and we don't just sit and eat inside the house! We do it outdoors, in a decorated abode we built with our own two hands.
Sukkot is special thanks to the fact that we sit in a different location and that we need to invest our time and effort around constructing that location, the Sukkah. As we know from so many other areas in life; working hard pays off. When we set aside time and pull up our sleeves, we care for the result, regardless of its true value. Our sentiment for Sukkot is often about the special family experiences that are made during the festival's different stages:
The fun around sukkot starts several days before the holiday kicks in, as we're told to move from one mitzvah directly to the next by constructing the sukkah when the Yom Kippur fast is over.
That way, the end of our most sacred day, Yom KIppur, directly connects to this fun and eventful holiday. We finish the fast, get our strength back, and get started on building the sukkah. Today's modern sukkot are so easy to build, many people actually get it all done in one time. But even if you just do one thing around building your sukkah on that evening when Yom Kippur ends, it's as good as completing it all.
The next day is usually the time where people start shopping for their set of Etrog and Lulav for the holiday. It's also a great time to get new decorations for this year's sukkah. Having our heads wrapped around holiday preparations, it's usually when families plan meals, making menus and inviting guests. There's a lot to do in preparation for sukkot, but there's enough time to do it all.
The sukkah, our temporary adobe for just a few days a year, is very symbolic for us and there are many reasons for the strange construction and holiday.
Sukkot is one of the three pilgrimage holidays, where our israelite ancestors would walk up to the holy temple in Jerusalem to pay homage and give thanks for the crops of the last year, and prepare for the next. This strong agricultural connection is also represented with the holiday's symbols - the Etrog, Arava and Lulav, which represent the different types of characters among the jewish people. It's more of a humoristic taxonomy than a flattering one, so let's just say we should all aspire to be described as an Etrog, rather than an Arava :)
Another monumental custom for Sukkot are our exalted guests, the ushpizin and ushpizot. Every day during the chag, we invite one of the seven shepherds of Israel to join our sukkah. These seven shepherds are our late leaders and kings. We mention them in prayer and song, to welcome them into our Sukkah.
A fun element of the chag is Chol HaMoed. The in-between days are considered more than regular weekdays, but less than the actual days of the festival, so they are often used for fun family gatherings and special activities. Even with this year's strange restrictions, the days of Chol HaMoed are a great time to enjoy the outdoors, thanks to the season. Sukkot takes place at the end of the summer, when it's nice to get out of the house and breathe some fresh air. Imagine having to sit in a sukkah a month earlier, in the midst of summer? The holiday's timing isn't accidental, but is connected to the year's agricultural cycle.
As we mentioned, such a special chag requires preparation. Sukkah, meals, guests and Chol Hamoed activities. To make this year's chag easy to organize, we've compiled a few categories containing many of your holiday needs.
The Lulav and Etrog category is a great place to start in case you're looking for some high quality Etrog cases and Lulav & Etrog sets. Get a decorative Etrog case for yourself or your hosts, if you were invited to any of the meals.
This category offers several options in different price ranges and styles so anyone can find their favorite item.
Another reason why this category is important is that it holds the Lulav and Etrog set, a holiday essential for anyone interested in carrying the chag's practices.
Next, visit the Sukkot Decorations category where you can find unique decorations for your sukkah. This category holds several artisan pieces, to make your sukkah look extra special this year.
Get the Gold Pomegranate or the Olive Branch Star of David made by Artist Michal Aram. These beautiful items are made to hang in your sukkah but they're so nice you'll want to put them up indoors throughout the year.
A sukkah isn't complete without a string of decorations, so we've gathered some very cute garlands for you. The Grape garland is truly adorable, and its only competitor is the mixed fruit garland, showing off both grapes and other beautiful pieces of fruit.
And what about our ushpizin and ushpizot? They deserve a nice welcome with a large cloth to cover the wall of the sukkah with their names and titles.
We invite you to browse through these sukkot categories to find your favorite items for yourselves and your loved ones.
From us at Shalom House, have a great sukkot! Chag Sameach!