Celebrating Sukkot without a Sukkah

How to creatively approach the fall harvest holiday.

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The Four Species

The lulav and etrog are made up of four different kinds of plants (citron/etrog, palm/lulav, myrtle/hadas and palm/arava) and are often called the Four species, or arba minim. They function as one unit, and we say one blessing over them together: its purpose is to gather and enjoy the plants of the land. Anyone can shake a lulav at home, in a synagogue, or wherever you find yourself, even out in the natural world. A lulav and etrog can be found online or in a local Judaica store.

sukkot quiz

Ushpizin

All year, welcoming guests is a Jewish value expressed by the mitzvah of hakhnasat orhim. Invite guests to your home for a sukkah party or a meal and serve harvest-themed treats. You might also host a picnic in a local park.

At Sukkot we specifically welcome ushpizin, traditionally one of seven exalted men of Israel to take up residence in the sukkah with us: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. Be creative and encourage your guests to welcome their own ushpizin-- famous personalities and heroes, ancient or modern, Jewish or not Jewish, who lived exemplary lives and continue to inspire.
The Time of Our Joy         

In Jewish liturgy, Sukkot is referred to as "the time of our joy," z'man simhateinu. Take time off to spend with family or friends, or make lots of phone calls to wish a hag sameah, a happy holiday, to loved ones who are too far to visit.
 
Make your home a joyful place with decorations in the spirit of the holiday: decorate your front door with a harvest theme, hang paper chains from your ceilings, or build a mini-sukkah out of graham crackers, pretzels, and icing to serve as a fun treat. Sukkot in Israel are often decorated with what Americans would refer to as "Christmas lights," so grab a box and string them around your windows and walls to transform your home into a sukkah.
 
The space and financial investment needed to build a sukkah can be very real, but finding ways to celebrate the holiday only takes some creative thinking.

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Sara Shapiro-Plevan

Sara Shapiro-Plevan serves as the Coordinator of Congregational Education for New York City for the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York.