Sukkot 101

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In the Community

As with all festivals, services play an important role in the communal celebration of Sukkot. In addition to special festival readings, including Psalms of Praise (Hallel), on Sukkot additional prayers are included in the service asking God to save us (hoshana, from which we get the English word hosanna). During the Hoshana prayers, congregants march around the synagogue sanctuary holding the lulav and etrog. The seventh and last day of the festival is called Hoshanah Rabba, the "Great Hoshana."

Hol Hamoed (Intermediate Days)

During the intermediate days of Sukkot, one is allowed to pursue normal activity. One is nonetheless supposed to hold and wave the lulav and etrog on a daily basis, eat one’s meals in the sukkah, and continue to dwell in the sukkah for the remainder of the holiday.

Theology and Themes

The enforced simplicity of eating and perhaps also living in a temporary shelter focuses our minds on the important things in life and divorces us from the material possessions of the modern world that dominate so many of our lives. Even so, Sukkot is a joyful holiday and justifiably referred to as zeman simchateynu, the "season of our joy."

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