Sukkot (pronounced sue-COAT) is also called the Feast of Tabernacles, or Feast of Booths. Sukkot is one of the three pilgrimage feasts, or feasts for which we are commanded to “go up” to Jerusalem. Today there is no Temple to go to in Jerusalem, but we still celebrate this feast because it is a rehearsal of events that have already occurred and some yet to come. The first day of Sukkot is a High Sabbath and the day immediately following the seven-day feast (Shemini Atzeret) is also a High Sabbath (special Sabbaths other than the weekly Sabbath, Saturday) of no work.
In 2017, Sukkot is from sundown October 5, through sundown October 12 (the 1st day is a High Holy Day) immediately followed by Shemini Atzeret from sundown October 12 through sundown October 13 (also a High Holy Day).
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During the feast of Sukkot we remember when the Almighty led the Israelites out of Egypt, and they lived in shelters in the wilderness for 40 years. During this time, the Almighty also dwelt in a sukkah (sue-KAH), the singular form of the Hebrew word sukkot, among the people (i.e. in the “tabernacle”).
For Sukkot, each family is commanded to build a temporary shelter a sukkah and dwell in it for the length of the 8-day feast. Some people set up a tent to dwell in during this time, while others build more elaborate, yet temporary structures with PVC pipe, bamboo, or wooden boards. It can be as simple as a square or rectangle top and four legs. The walls of the sukkah are usually some kind of fabric.
Most people eat their meals in the sukkah and some even camp out in it each night. The sukkah is intended to remind us of our need for the Almighty’s provision and of the fact that our life on Earth is temporary, like the sukkah itself.