Making the "Sukkah", a hut shaped temporary structure, is the most important tradition observed during the Jewish Sukkot festival. Know the reason for the building of the "Sukkah" and how it is created. If you like reading about "Building a Sukkah", click here and pass on this article to your friends and loved ones. Wish you a happy Sukkot!
Sukkot or "Chag'ha Succot" is one of the major Jewish festivals. Held annually, the occassion commences five days after Yom Kippur - on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Tishri and lasts for seven days. Unlike Yom Kippur, Sukkot is a joyous occassion and commemorates the period of forty years when Hebrews were sojourners of the desert, living in temporary shelters, before they reached the Promised Land.
In the Western nations, Sukkot is often referred to as "The Feast of the Booths/Tabernacles", a name given because of the fact that temporary structures shaped as huts are erected during the festival. These structures or booths are known as "Sukkah", that are built by the Jewish people to recall and relive the incidents experienced by their ancestors during their sojourn.
As per the scriptural instructions, a typical sukkah must have at least three walls covered with some strong material immune to the effect of wind. The "halakha" allows the walls of the sukkah to be constructed from any material such as wood, canvas, plaster, or regular walls of glass or aluminium. However, the "sekhakh" or roof of a "sukkah" must always be created of organic things cut off from the ground like tree branches, palm fronds, corn stalks, bamboo reeds or wooden sticks. The "sekhakh" is the last thing to be built and put over the top of the sukkah. If it rains, a water-proof cloth may be temporary used over the "sekhakh" but never as the "sekhakh" itself. The "sukkah" should be large enough to shelter yourself and your other family members and placed in an area exposed to rain showers or sunshine. The "sehkah" should be built in such a way as to provide shade to the inhabitants of the "sukkah" but it should also allow some sunlight to enter the structure. This creates a harsh environment and dwelling similar to what the Jewish ancestors were exposed to in the wilderness.
But the festive mood finds an expression in the common practice of decorating the sukkah. The insides of a "sukkah" is traditionally adorned with pictures, tapestries, hanging fruits and ornaments. Jews living in the U.S. often hang fruits and vegetables like dried squash and corn to decorate the sukkah, a natural choice owing to the fact that Sukkot comes almost at the same time as the American holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. Many even hang artwork and crafts created by kids on the walls.
A Jew is supposed to stay inside the sukkah for sometime with his family and even eat and sleep inside it for as long as possible provided his health and the climate permits. Even friends are invited for feasts inside the "sukkah".
Building and decorating a sukkah is a fun activity for every individual Jewish family, very similar to the Christmas tree decoration of the Christians. It contributes to much of the pleasure of "Sukkot", which is very aptly often referred to as Zeman Simkhateinu, or "The Season of our Rejoicing".