Sukkot is the annual Jewish festival of giving thanks for the harvest and also commemorates the forty years of Jewish wandering in the desert after Sinai. Celebrations begin five days after Yom Kippur, on the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Sukkot is observed for seven days.
As one of the three Temple oriented Pilgrim Festivals, Sukkot has traditionally been deeply connected to the Temple and to the produce of the land. This can seem strange when being marked by Jews in colder climes who have never grown much more than a pot of mint. Over the millennia since the destruction of the Temple and exile from the land, Sukkot has had many layers of meaning added, both to its celebration and its symbols. As Reform Jews we also continue to find and add to the purpose of Sukkot. These range from environmental lessons, finding ourselves increasingly exposed to climate change as we sit in our booths, to the need to respond to rising levels of homelessness and poverty.
Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, who served as a community rabbi in South London for 30 years and now serves Lev Chadash Milano, writes about some of the many interpretations that can help us to unpack what can otherwise seem an odd set of customs! You can read more here.