September 23 – October 1, 2018 [5779]

Sukkot traces its roots to the many agricultural ceremonies enacted by the ancient Hebrews, becoming a festival of thanks for a bountiful fall harvest and one of three “pilgrimage festivals” during which a portion of the first fruits were brought to the Temple in Jerusalem.

Over the years, Sukkot was transformed by the Torah into a festival that celebrates and commemorates the protection afforded the Israelites throughout their wanderings in the wilderness, as referenced in Leviticus 23:42-43:

You shall dwell in booths seven days…
that your generations may know that
I made the Israelites dwell in booths,
when I brought them out of
the Land of Egypt.

Consequently, the major symbol of Sukkot is the sukkah, from the Hebrew word for “hut” or “booth.”

Other symbols of the festival include the lulav (consisting of two willow branches, a single palm branch and three myrtle branches) and the etrog (Hebrew for “citron”), a fruit similar in color and shape to a lemon. The lulav and etrog are used together in a prayer ritual for Sukkot.

At Emanu-El, Sukkot is celebrated in our Fifth Avenue Sanctuary, were a large three-story sukkah is erected on the bimah. A second sukkah is also created on our 3rd floor/outdoor play space, where our clergy, staff and families gather on the eve of Sukkot for “Shake in the Shack” prior to the main service.

For 5779, Temple Emanu-El offers two services during Sukkot.