Sukkot for Families
Creative tips for the happiest time of the year.
Sukkot provides a wonderful opportunity for your family to "camp out" or take a vacation, right in your own backyard. During Sukkot, we are asked to feel the tension between the vulnerability of living outside in a fragile shelter and the safety of God’s protection.
Try to eat in a sukkah as often as possible. Meals can be simple, cozy and fun--just like you might have by a camp fire. You can also experiment with moving some weekday activities into the sukkah, such as playdates and homework time. It is a mitzvah to recite the blessing over and wave the lulav and etrog on each day of Sukkot. The mitzvahis often done in a synagogue, but the family sukkah is a great location to do it as well.
Children love the coziness of being outside at night. Bedtime rituals such as storytelling and singing are even more special when moved outside with everyone snug in their PJs and extra sweaters. And if everyone feels really brave, why not bring out the sleeping bags and air mattresses and sleep in the sukkah?
(Note: Sukkot should be a time of joy and pleasure, so if the weather is too cold, or it is raining, or there is some other reason for discomfort, go back inside. Everyone should be comfortable and have fun.)
Reaching Out to Others
On Sukkot, our "home-away-from-home" can be a welcome space for guests of all ages.
Inviting family and friends (old and new) into your sukkah helps enrich the meaning of the holiday.
There is also a mystical custom on Sukkot to welcome seven Biblical guests into the sukkah, called ushpizin. These Biblical guests are traditionally Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron or David. Some families also welcome our female ancestors: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther. Ushpizinmakes a great decorating theme as well. Children can draw pictures of Biblical characters and stories. These stories can also be told or acted out in the sukkah, perhaps as an after-dinner activity.
Children can also think about other non-Biblical ushpizin to "invite" into the Sukkah. These can be famous historical figures (Jewish and non-Jewish), super-heroes, and/or anyone your child looks up to.
Sukkot is a time to think about the blessing of having a permanent home, and to acknowledge that so many people lack this fortune. Families can put their thoughts into action by volunteering together a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
Focus on Joy
Sukkot is called z’man simhateinu, the time of our joy, and the activities, rituals, and foods you choose should focus on happiness. Sukkot is a great holiday to serve everyone’s favorite foods, wear new clothes, and even exchange some presents.
Did you like this article? MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.