Sukkot, also know as the Feast of the Tabernacle, is one of the longest Jewish holidays, lasting for an entire week. In Temple times, it was considered one of the Pilgrimage Festivals, where the entire nation of Israel would travel to the Temple in Israel to celebrate the holiday together. Like any Jewish holiday, Sukkot comes with a plethora of traditions and customs. To start, we spend an entire week living in a hut- sukkah- just like the Jews did when wandering in the desert for 40 years. The sukkah must have four walls and the roof must be made from leaves or bamboo, which is called s'chach, with enough space left in between each piece so that we can see the starry night. Many choose to actually live in this temporary dwelling for the week by sleeping in it as well, but many also choose to eat their meals and spend as much time as they can in the sukkah. Another tradition is during our special Sukkot prayer services, we incorporate the four species through a lulav and etrog. The four species are date palms, myrtle, willow, and citron. The date palms, myrtle, and willow are bundled together in a special way to create the lulav and in Hebrew, a citron is an etrog. There are multiple meanings behind the use of these plants but some say that each represents a different part of the body that is needed to complete a mitzvah.
An etrog, or citron in English, is one of the four species. This fruit has a citrus smell and taste to it so many choose to make jams and liqueur out of it, and some even put cloves in it and use it for Havdallah after Shabbat once Sukkot has ended. Besides for choosing a beautiful etrog, the other important requirement for choosing an etrog is that it should have a pitom on it. A pitom is a small delicate part of the top of an etrog that occasionally falls off during growth, but if it says on, then one must be very careful if it should break off, it is no longer considered Kosher. Today there are also pitom-less etrogs so one does not have to worry but still should take good care of their etrog. This means storing it somewhere special, so that it does not get lost, bruised, or if you have a pitom, it won't break off. Etrog boxes are perfect for this and for making sure your know what etrog is yours! Each box is unqiue and made from different materials, such as hand-painted wood and beautifully crafted silver. The different styles make sure there is something for everyone; traditionalists, sports lovers, modernist, minimalists, and more.
Just like you have to take special care of your etrog, you have to make sure your lulav is in tip-top shape for Sukkot. The lulav is made up for three different sets of leaves from date palms, myrtle, and willow, each with their own personality. Some smell good, some taste good, and some have neither. Combined with the etrog that smells and tastes good, some say that the lulav and etrog represent different people in Judaism in connection to how they study Torah and do mitzvot. It is traditional to use the lulav and etrog throughout services on Sukkot, as well as wave it around the sukkah. This means traveling with your lulav without damaging it. Lulav Bags make carrying your lulav around a lot easier as it is the perfect size to fit the long pointy date palms that would rip through regular plastic. Plus, a lulav bag keeps away unwanted visitors, like bugs and animals, from ruining your lulav.
Each Jewish holiday has it's own set of special prayers, including Sukkot. Services are a bit longer than usual on Sukkot, and there is actually a special prayer book for Sukkot called a machzor. To easily follow along the Sukkot prayers, get a machzor you will love and cherish for the years to come. Hadar Judaica publishes beautiful machzor sets so that you are prepared for all the holidays that require different prayers such as, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippor, Passover, Shavuot, and of course, Sukkot. There are even faux leather options for those who prefer to be leather-free. Each holiday has its own book, making it easy to find just what you need in no time at all.
One of the many Sukkot traditions is a continuation of a favorite Rosh Hashanah tradition! Sukkot is still at the beginning of the Jewish new year, so many choose to continue using honey on their challah instead of salt. Israeli honey is always a crowd favorite, with scrumptious options, such as wildflower honey, eucalyptus honey, and infused honeys. It is a great way to keep the sweetness of the new year going, and everyone loves a delectable honey. There is no better way to store your honey than in a fantastic Israeli designed honey dish! Many honey dishes also come with a lid, keeping your honey fresh and bug free as you enjoy sitting outside in your sukkah.
Besides for all the delicious food we get to eat on Sukkot and every Jewish holiday, we also make Kiddush during the first and last day of the week long holiday. This is where a world renowned Israeli wine can come into play! Wine from Israel is some of the best and will also pair nicely with your meal, whatever it might be. Vineyards are located across the country, from the Negev desert to the green hills of the Galilee, each with their own unique taste and story. Israeli wine also makes for the perfect gift if you are going to be hosted for Sukkot or just as a surprise gift!
Did you know that it is a mitzvah to beautify your sukkah? Sukkahs from around the world are filled with bright twinkle lights, colorful wall hangings, and picturesque posters of Jerusalem. Even though it is a temporary dwelling for just the week, doesn't mean it can't be beautiful! Fill your sukkah up with posters from Israel to give it a touch of the Holy Land. Amazing posters of Jerusalem, paintings of flowers, and modern art work, it is so hard to choose just what will make it into your sukkah.
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