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Guide to Sukkot

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2012-10-04

Esrog

Esrog

Your easy to understand guide to Jewish feativals.

Succot (Tabernacles)

This festival begins five days after the end of Yom Kippur and commemorates the booths the Israelites constructed in the wilderness and lived in after their exodus from Egypt.

During the eight-day festival, Jews are supposed to live in a similar booth known as a Succah (dwelling) - the walls are made of wood and the ceiling of greenery to leave the stars visible. In countries such as Israel where the climate permits, many people sleep in the Succah, but elsewhere it is used mainly for meals only.

In synagogue, each congregant says a blessing over four different species of plants - a palm branch (lulav), citron (esrog), myrtle branch and willow twig - which are representative of the four different types of Jewish person.

The middle four days of the festival are regular working days - although the fourth of these, Hoshana Rabba (Save Us), is treated as one final chance to purge the soul of sins committed in the previous year.

The eighth day of the festival is called The Eighth Day Of Solemn Assembly (Shemini Atzeret), when a prayer for rain is said during the synagogue service.