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  • Writer's pictureTziporah Altman-Shafer

It's Time to Party! (What is Sukkot Anyway?)

The fall holidays are over right?


We’ve just gotten started.

Now that the heavy lifting of teshuva (repentance) is done and we have all been forgiven, we can celebrate with a clean slate.

Enter Sukkot the most joyous holiday on the Jewish calendar. Sukkot is the only holiday is which we are COMMANDED to be happy (Deuteronomy 16: 14-15). But it’s not just that we are told to be happy; Sukkot is fun!

Sukkot is celebrated with the whole body, with all our senses, and opportunities for creativity abound. Here are some examples:

  1. Use your whole body: On this holiday, we use our whole body for the mitzvah (commandment)--we are actually inside the mitzvah because we are inside a Sukkah. A Sukkah is a temporary hut that we build outside.

  2. See, hear, and touch the lulav and etrog: We are told to take 4 species (palm, citron, willow, and myrtle) and shake them in all directions to show that God is everywhere. Use your senses: touch them, smell them, see them, hear them make noise when you shake them. This is so fun and we get to do it every day during Sukkot (except Shabbat)! Learn more here.

  3. Taste: Sukkot is a holiday for hospitality. The Sukkah is a great place to welcome guests, have a meal or a snack. Sukkot is a harvest festival. Here are some great recipes.

  4. Party!: Dance, sing, shmooze, spend time with friends and family. You can even sleep in the Sukkah (weather permitting). You have a whole week to enjoy this holiday!

  5. Just Do It: Build your own Sukkah. It can be made of anything. Just put something organic (think corn husks, branches, or bamboo) on the roof and make sure you can see the stars. There are no limits how to make it beautiful. Deciding how to construct it is a great family activity. Here are some ideas to get you started.

This year Sukkot begins on Wednesday night, October 4 and lasts 8 days (7 if you are in Israel or if you follow Reform Jewish tradition). Enjoy the holiday!

There are so many educational opportunities in Milwaukee. If you would like some help finding the right program for your child, contact Tzipi Altman-Shafer to talk about how you can “Go Jewish” with your family (414-963-2718 or

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