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Dwell: A Sukkot Experiment

Sponsored by the Fine Arts Committee on Culture and Community and the Ritual Committee

Sukkot is arguably the best Jewish holiday you aren't fully celebrating. This annual harvest festival, also known as the Festival of Huts, is all about gathering together to eat and appreciate the bounty of nature inside a fragile structure known as a sukkah. It's an ideal holiday for the warm days and mild nights of early autumn. And it's perfect for the age of COVID because it is observed outdoors.

In contrast to the other High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Sukkot is traditionally observed primarily at home. Yet many Reform Jews have only experienced Sukkot in the sukkah erected at their synagogue. This year we are encouraging our community to try something different: celebrating Sukkot with other Sinai members at your own or a Sinai neighbor’s home, in a local park, and in the sukkah at Temple Sinai. 

We are calling this effort, DWELL: a Sukkot Experiment. Our goal is to encourage and support the full and exuberant celebration of this joyful holiday throughout the Sinai community.

To help us celebrate, we’ve planned several activities, some of which are well in advance of the holiday:

Sukkah Raising and Party
Sunday, August 14, 1:00 – 4:00pm, Rockridge Residence

Join Temple Sinai members at a home in Rockridge to practice assembling a sukkah and prepare for our community-wide celebration of Sukkot. (We do not know how long it will take to raise the sukkah. Arrive early if you want to be sure to be there for the construction part. Feel free to arrive late if you just want to party!) 

Sukkot 101 
Sunday, September 18, 1:00pm, Temple Sinai

Learn about Sukkot with members of the Ritual Committee. We’ll consider traditional and creative ways of observing Sukkot, explore the meaning of the lulav and etrog, share kosher and other options for sukkah building, and hear innovative ways members of our community celebrate. Sunday, September 18, 2022, 1:00pm at Temple Sinai.

Recruit DWELL hosts: From now until September 1, 2022, we are recruiting volunteer hosts who will invite other Sinai members to join them for a Sukkot event during the weeklong festival (October 10 - 17, 2022). It’s a bit like Pop-Up Shabbat, but during Sukkot. And it doesn’t have to include dinner. You can plan a party in your backyard, organize a gathering at a park, or celebrate in the sukkah at the temple.  Hosts will determine the date and time of their event, how many guests they can accommodate, any activities, and what, if anything, guests should bring. (We can help you organize a potluck should you choose to have one.) Complete this host information form to get started.

Guide to Sukkot: All DWELL participants (hosts as well as their guests) will receive a booklet including an overview of the holiday, a description of Sukkot rituals and practices, recipes, a list of ideas for Sukkot activities, and resources for those who want to build a sukkah, including both kosher and creative options.

Lulavs and etrogs:  These ritual objects are used during Sukkot blessings. DWELL will provide hosts with a lulav and etrog, either their own set or one that is shared with another host.  (This depends on how many hosts we recruit.)

Invite congregants:  Congregants will RSVP to attend the hosted event of their choice, selecting from a list on the temple website, starting in early September.

We hope you will join us in celebrating Sukkot with your Temple Sinai community this year.

Please direct your questions to

Sukkot Q and A

Q:  f you ask Jews today what is the most important High Holy Day, they would probably answer Yom Kippur. And how would a Jew in 200 BCE respond to the same question?

A: Sukkot! Rosh Hashanah primarily served to remind everyone Sukkot would begin in just two weeks.


Q: What is the real reason Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days?

A: Sukkot! The Jews could not celebrate the eight day festival of Sukkot while the Greeks were using the Temple to slaughter pigs.  (Yes, eight. If you count Shemini Atzeret. Come on! Work with us. Please).  The first Hanukkah was really a postponed observance of Sukkot–the holiday that was just too important to skip.


Q: What Jewish festival is also known as “the season of our joy” or z'man simchateinu?

A:  Sukkot! The Torah literally commands us to throw a party.“ ...Seven days you should hold a festival for God...and you will have nothing but joy.” (Deut. 16:15)


Q:  What American holiday was originally modeled after Sukkot? 

A: Thanksgiving! Many historians believe Sukkot inspired the Pilgrims’ first celebration of this quintessentially American holiday.


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Sun, August 14 2022 17 Av 5782