Sukkot Quick Facts - IL

AKA NameChag Ha-Asif, Succot
HashtagsCompiled on#Sukkot
Related Hashtags#Israel
2024 Date16 October 2024
2025 Date6 October 2025


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Sukkot History

Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, is a significant Jewish holiday observed as a time of thanksgiving, joy, and reflection on God's protection throughout history. This week-long festival is mentioned in the Torah as a way to commemorate the Israelites' 40-year sojourn through the desert after the exodus from Egypt and their dependence on God's guidance and provision. An important aspect of Sukkot is the construction of temporary dwellings called sukkahs, where families spend time together, eat meals, and sometimes even sleep, in a symbolic connection to their ancestors.

Centuries-old traditions surrounding the observance of Sukkot in Israel are unique due to the presence of holy sites and the land’s agricultural history. Sukkot’s historical roots trace back to the harvest season when the Israelites built temporary huts or booths in their fields to protect their produce. This agricultural aspect is still embraced today, with many communities incorporating seasonal produce and decorations inside their sukkahs. Additionally, the four species, consisting of the lulav (palm branch), etrog (citron), aravot (willow branches), and hadass (myrtle branches), are ritually bound together and used throughout the festival as a reminder of Israel's close connection to the land and its agricultural heritage.

In present-day Israel, Sukkot is observed with a variety of activities including communal sukkah building, outdoor gatherings, and special synagogue services. Families and friends come together to create uniquely designed sukkahs, and it is customary to visit others' sukkahs and extend hospitality to guests. The final two days of the holiday, known as Hoshana Rabbah and Simchat Torah, include unique prayers and processions in the synagogue. Sukkot is celebrated annually during the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which usually falls between late September and October, transforming the streets of Israel into a display of unity and festive spirit.

Sukkot facts

  • Sukkot is also a harvest festival. It is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif, the Festival of Ingathering. No work is permitted on the first day. However, some work is allowed on the intermediate days which are known as Chol Hamoed.
  • Each day of Succot is associated with Ushpezin (visitors), one of seven Succah visitors. Each day has its visitor, starting with Abraham. The other visitors are: Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon.
  • The seventh day of Sukkot is a special day known as Hoshanah Rabbah. It is considered the last day on which the divine judgment initiated on Rosh Hashanah can be altered or reversed. Traditional practices include a special synagogue service and beating willow branches on the ground.
  • In ancient times, during the year following the Shmita (Sabbatical) year in Israel, a special ceremony called Hakhel was conducted at the Temple in Jerusalem. During this ceremony, the king of Israel would read from the Torah to the entire nation, emphasizing the unity and shared values of the Jewish people.
  • A unique tradition of Sukkot that has its roots in the mystical Jewish tradition of Kabbalah is the custom of inviting symbolic guests called Ushpizin into the sukkah. These guests represent the Patriarchs of Israel (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David) and their spiritual attributes.

Top things to do in Israel for Sukkot

  • Purchase or make your own Sukkah. They are typically designed to be assembled and disassembled quickly - in less than two hours by two people.
  • One can buy the four kinds (of material used to build Sukkot as per the Torah) or order them from Israel. The four kinds include palm branches, an Etrog (citron), three willow branches and two myrtle branches. The palm, myrtle and willow are bound together in a palm holder.
  • During Sukkot, families take advantage of the pleasant weather and the school holidays to visit national parks, nature reserves, and historical sites around Israel.
  • On the seventh day of Sukkot, many people attend special prayer services in synagogues and at the Western Wall, where they participate in the traditional ritual of beating willow branches on the ground.

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