Neighbors this week twice invited us into their sukkah for meals, and allowed us to be a part of their Jewish tradition.
We were awed and honored. Thank you, friends.
A sukkah (Hebrew: סוכה, plural, סוכות sukkot ; sukkoth, often translated as “booth”) is a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot. It is topped with branches and often well decorated with autumnal, harvest or Judaic themes. The Book of Vayikra (Leviticus) describes it as a symbolic wilderness shelter, commemorating the time God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness they inhabited after they were freed from slavery in Egypt. It is common for Jews to eat, sleep and otherwise spend time in the sukkah. In Judaism, Sukkot is considered a joyous occasion and is referred to in Hebrew as Yom Simchateinu (the day of our rejoicing) or Z’man Simchateinu (the time of our rejoicing), and the sukkah itself symbolizes the frailty and transience of life and its dependence on God.
The halakha requires eating and sleeping in the sukkah. However, Jews are not expected to remain in the sukkah if they would be very uncomfortable there. For this reason, Jews living at northern latitudes will generally not sleep in the sukkah due to the cold temperatures of autumn nights. Some Jews in these locales will spend some time in the sukkah eating and relaxing but go indoors to sleep.