After a five-day recovery period from the difficult Yom Kippur fast, Jews are more than ready to celebrate the bountiful harvest during Sukkot. Unlike the previous holy holiday Jews celebrated, Sukkot requires food, and lots of it!

Sukkot is celebrated on the 15th day of Tishrei (First month of the Jewish Calendar) .
Besides the harvest, Sukkot also remembers the 40 years the Jews wandered in the desert after Moses received the Torah.

Sukkot lasts 7 days in Israel and 8 days in the diaspora. The first and last day of Sukkot are holy days similar to Shabbat where work is forbidden. The days in between, called Chol Hamoed, are more holy than an average day but not as sacred as Shabbat. During these days, Jews are permitted to travel, cook and do other activities usually prohibited on holier holidays. In Israel, stores and restaurants are closed on the first and last day and people do not work. In the days in between, most stores and restaurants are open, and the streets are filled with vacationing Israelis and Jews throughout the world.

One day after Sukkot, or the 8th day in the diaspora, Jews can be found parading through the streets of their city or synagogue carrying a Torah celebrating Simchat Torah. Simchat Torah marks the conclusion of the Torah readings for that year and begins a new year of Torah readings.pexels-photo-large

During Sukkot, in order to pay respect to their ancestors, Jews build temporary shelters called Sukkah. In today’s efficient and material world you can actually purchase, what I like to call, a “pop-up-sukkah”. These Sukkahs are made of cheap plastic and are easily assembled, like Ikea furniture! Jews are commanded to literally “dwell” in the Sukkah during Sukkot, which is interpreted by many as eating all meals there. Dwell they do. In North America, the temperature is anything but pleasant to be eating a meal outside in a tarp-covered fort. However, in Israel, where the weather is nice during Sukkot, Israelis spend as much time as they can in the Sukkah. The more time spent in the Sukkah, the better. The Sukkah is after all supposed to remind Jews of the living situation their ancestors faced during their journey to the Holy land.

After the fun of building and spending time in the Sukkah, Israelis take advantage of the relaxed holiday vibe and vacation throughout the country. The North of Israel, where the weather is desirable during this time of year, receives record numbers of Israeli tourists. Hiking through the lush Golan Heights or relaxing by the Sea of Galilee are some popular activities in Israel during Sukkot. However Israelis spend their Sukkot, they spend it well, because they know that the holiday season is soon coming to an end and work is around the corner.

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