It’s a busy time of year in the fall for the Jewish community. So. Many. Holidays! Luckily, Sukkot provides a fresh change of pace compared to the rituals and content of the preceding High Holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, most of which are centered around long prayer services, fasting, and introspective meditation. Sukkot, on the other hand, is a holiday that revolves around thankfulness, the outdoors, and, of course, food!
Sukkot is the holiday in the Jewish Calendar that marks the end of the harvest season in the Land of Israel. Wouldn’t you want to if you’d been spending countless days in a field and preparing for the winter? In modern times, we celebrate Sukkot by building a Sukkah: a small hut-like structure that imitates those structures that our ancestors stay in while tending to their fields during harvest season. We decorate them and make them a central part of our lives for the duration of the 8-day holiday. It is a Mitzvah, or commandment, to eat meals and spend time in the Sukkah.
Another important Mitzvah and ritual of Sukkot is the shaking of the Lulav and Etrog. This ritual is another physical manifestation of ancient roots: this same ritual has been carried out the same way since the beginning of Jewish history. The Lulav consists of branches of a date palm, myrtle, and willow trees and the Etrog is a citrus fruit. The Lulav and Etrog are held together and shaken in the cardinal directions.
For the week of Sukkot, the JCC Denver has a Sukkah built in the terrace beyond the main lobby. We invite you to join us for one of the many programs available or to stop by and spend a few minutes in the Sukkah! We will have a Lulav and Etrog available if you’d like to give them a shake!
While even though most of us do not rely on subsistence farming, Sukkot provides an opportunity for our community to express gratitude for the systems that allow food to be plentiful in our lives. And, at the same time, we should remember that not everyone has the same access and that we should work to make healthy food more accessible for all. To be actionable in our Jewish Values, the JCC Denver, alongside MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, has signed on in support of the ballot initiative. If you would like to learn more visit Healthy School Meals for All.