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Sukkot and Simchat Torah: the Basics

Sukkot and Simchat Torah: the Basics
Available in on-screen reading friendly (PDF) and printer-friendly, downloadable (PDF) versions.

For more booklets, visit our Booklets for People in Interfaith Relationships page.

Sukkot is the third and final festival that commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt. The escape of Israel from Egypt is remembered at Passover, entering into a covenant with God at Mount Sinai is recalled at Shavuot, and sleeping in a temporary hut or booth ("sukkah" in Hebrew) while wandering in the wilderness is memorialized in the holiday of Sukkot. "Sukkot" is the plural form of sukkah.

Simchat Torah is the last of the fall holidays, arriving at the end of Sukkot. During Simchat Torah we can be filled with joy and love for God, for the Torah and for the Jewish community. The name of this holiday means "Joy of the Torah," and it marks the completion of the year long cycle of weekly Torah readings (parshiot).

This booklet will explain all the hows, whys and whats of these holidays, from symbols and ritual items through blessings and the importance of guests.

Let this booklet guide you through the the end of the last of the autumn holidays. This booklet is also great as:

  • a handout for new synagogue or community members;
  • material in a class on Jewish holidays for family education;
  • take home resources for religious schools, community gatherings and events leading up to the holidays.

 

Consider leaving this booklet out for members of your community to read and take home during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur!

Hebrew for "Head of the Year," the Jewish New Year. With Yom Kippur, known as the High Holy Days. Hebrew for "Day of Atonement," the final of ten Days of Awe that begin with Rosh Hashanah. Occurs during the fall and is marked by a 24-hour fast. One of the most important Jewish holidays. Derived from the Greek word for "assembly," a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogue refers to both the room where prayer services are held and the building where it occurs. In Yiddish, "shul." Reform synagogues are often called "temple." The spring holiday commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew name is "Pesach." A Summer holiday commemorating the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, it is also known as the Feast of Weeks, as it comes seven weeks after Passover begins. A language of West Semitic origins, culturally considered to be the language of the Jewish people. Ancient or Classical Hebrew is the language of Jewish prayer or study. Modern Hebrew was developed in the late-19th and early 20th centuries as a revival language; today it is spoken by most Israelis.
Hebrew for "booth," a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot ("booths").
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