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Created by Miriam Feinberg

Early Childhood Consultant

Sukkot and Simchat Torah


Shalom Parents, Jews have celebrated Sukkot by building booths

Sukkot and Simhat Torah are fun holidays! throughout the ages. Todays sukkah is a replica of
The nine-day holiday period begins with Sukkot the original booths. The act of building it, decorating
on the fifteenth of the Hebrew month of Tishrei it, welcoming guests in it, eating in it and sometimes
(five days after Yom Kippur) and culminates with sleeping in it, enhances Sukkot celebrations. Todays
Simchat Torah. Reform Jews generally observe an sukkah, like biblical ones, is built with at least
eight-day holiday, celebrating Simchat Torah on three walls and a roof that is sparsely covered with
the eighth day, as is done in Israel. branches so that stars are visible at night.

Sukkot, a time of sharing and thanksgiving, Simchat Torah comes on the ninth day of this
celebrates the start of autumn and reaping of summer joyous festival when the years reading of the Torah
crops, commemorating a time when the Israelites is completed and then begun again with the reading of
became a united people. Genesis. On Simchat Torah evening and
The lulav and etrog, symbolic of during the next day, Torah scrolls are
vegetation that grows in Israel, are taken from the Torah Ark and carried
important Sukkot rituals. They are around the synagogue as celebrants sing
held together, shaken and waved and dance in a joyful procession. Torah
in specific ways, while reciting a scrolls are carried around the synagogue
particular blessing, as commanded seven times instead of the usual once.
in the Torah. The lulav is made Each time around is called a hakkafah
up of three special plants (palm, (hakkafot in plural). Children of all ages
myrtle, and willow) which are bound are encouraged to join the procession,
together, and held with the etrog, while waving special flags. The flags
or citron. They may be purchased at remind us of those carried through the
a Jewish bookstore or synagogue. desert to the Promised Land by the
twelve tribes of Israel after the Exodus
Building, decorating and living in booths is from Egypt as described in the Torah.
essential to Sukkot. Israelite farmers built booths
in ancient times. They lived together in villages, Holiday dates this year are:
going out to work in their fields every morning and Erev Sukkot (the first evening of Sukkot):
returning home in the evening. But when crops were Wednesday, October 12.
ripe there was not time to go back and forth. Farmers The first two days of the holiday (when many
worked their fields from early morning until nighttime, people attend synagogue services and refrain from
harvesting as needed and resting nearby in little huts working): Thursday and Friday October 13 and 14.
they had built (called sukkot and translated as Simchat Torah: The evening of Thursday October
booths). Joyful feasting followed the harvest. 20 and Friday October 21.
Page Two CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME October, 2011
Tishrei, 5772
Sukkot and Simchat Torah


How Can You Build A Sukkah? bend a tree over the top of your sukkah). It should
Its so much fun to build ones own sukkah. A pre- be covered, giving more shade than sun during the
fabricated one may be bought at a Jewish book store day, while not preventing rain from coming through
or one can be built from scratch. It is usually erected and open enough for stars to be visible through the
as soon after Yom Kippur as possible. It does not roof at night.
need to be elegant and may be decorated any way
you like. Check for ideas in The Jewish Catalogue With your child: Gather materials to create
(p. 129, Jewish Publication the roof.
When building a sukkah, DECORATING: Since the sukkah is considered your
consider ideas below: If home for the eight days (but not used on Simchat
your family chooses not to Torah), it is customary to decorate it nicely. You can
build a sukkah, you can hang fruits, flowers and strung beads and decorate
do many of the suggested the walls with posters, pictures and your childrens
activities in your home. unique works. Try these ideas:

SELECT A SITE: Find one Pine Cone Decorations

that has nothing hanging Materials: pine cones, water paints (in a variety
above it; (a roof or a tree of colors), paint brushes, glue, glitter, yarn (cut in
branch). 2 foot lengths).

With your child: Walk Procedure: Gather pine cones with your child.
around your yard Paint some. Place glue and glitter on others.
searching for the best When the pine cones have dried, hang
location. them from the sukkah roof with
yarn, or place
THE WALLS: It must have at least two complete walls them in a
and a small part of a third one. You dont need to bowl as a table
build all three walls; you can use the side of a build- centerpiece.
ing, and build only two others. Use any material,
being creative and having fun, as long as the walls are Leaf Picture
sturdy enough to withstand a normal wind. Decorations
Materials: leaves, glue, paper, safety pins or tape.
THE ROOF: Schach (roof material on the sukkah)
can be made from branches of any tree, as long as it Procedure: Gather fallen leaves with your
was live when it was cut. It must be made from mate- child. Glue them onto papers. When the glue
rial that grows from the ground (branches or leaves has dried, attach the papers to the walls of the
or wooden slats or shrubbery; but not metal or food) sukkah, using safety pins (if the walls are fabric)
and presently detached from the ground (Dont just or tape (if the walls are a hard surface).

Sukkot and Simchat Torah Words

Erev: Literally meaning evening, it refers to the Ushpizin: Meaning guests and pronounced
first evening of a holiday. ooshpeezen, it is customary to invite our
Etrog: A citron held with the lulav on Sukkot. ancestors to spiritually join us in our sukkah.
Lulav: Made by combining branches from palm, Schach: Branches that form the sukkah roof.
myrtle and willow trees, it is held together with the Hakkafot: A joyous procession when the Torah
etrog on the first seven days of Sukkot (but not on scrolls are carried around the synagogue seven
Simchat Torah), while reciting a special blessing. times on Simchat Torah.
Page Three CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME October, 2011
Tishrei, 5772
Sukkot and Simchat Torah
What Can You Do In Your Sukkah?
During Sukkot we eat, drink, and study in the sukkah, and often invite guests to join us there.
Some people even sleep there if possible.

WELCOME GUESTS (Ushpizin): With your child: Sing touch and smell the lulav
According to Kabbalistic tradition, songs he knows from and etrog. If you decide not
seven spiritual guests (biblical school. to purchase them, visit a
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, synagogue on Sukkot when
Aaron, Joseph and David) visit the READ: See recommended books others might be using them
sukkah, each on one of the days on page four (They are not used on Simchat
that we eat there. Some people Torah) and offer opportunities
like to include other spiritual With your child: Select for you and your child to hold
guests; like biblical Sarah, Re- favorite books to read and shake them.
becca Leah, Rachel, Deborah, together in the sukkah.
Ruth and Simchat Torah
Esther EAT: Sukkot
or others menus, reflect- CARRY AND WAVE A SIMCHAT
of your ing the harvest TORAH FLAG: Simchat Torah is
choosing. festival, gener- particularly happy and is usually
Decide ally include very child-centered. Children are
with your dishes with fresh encouraged to join in the proces-
family fruits and veg- sion, usually waving special flags.
which ush- etables. Stuffed
pizin to in- vegetables are Making A Flag
vite. Make typical; some Materials: A large square
posters say because, like piece of white construction
with those cornucopia, they paper, scissors, a blue crayon
names represent a boun- or marker, a paper towel roll,
and hang tiful harvest. tape or glue.
them in
your sukkah. The spiritual guest With your child: Decide Procedure: Fold a large
for each day is invited before on fruits and vegetables rectangular piece of
the meal as we say Enter, ex- to include in meals and construction paper in half and
alted holy guest (the name of the purchase them together. then in half again, creating
guest) four boxes. Cut out the lower
right box. Decorate the top
Making Ushpizin pictures right box with a blue star in
Materials: A large roll of paper,
What Else Can You the middle and a blue strip
scissors, crayons or markers, tape. Do To Celebrate? above and below the star.
Roll the left half of the paper
Procedure: Would your childs Sukkot around a long cardboard roll.
guests like to be ushpizin? Tape or glue the rolled paper
Suggest that a guest lie down BLESS THE LULAV AND to the cardboard roll. Youve
on a large piece of paper on the ETROG: made an Israeli flag.
floor. Another person should An important Sukkot
first trace and then color in observance is the blessing
her outline using crayons of the lulav and etrog. Hold
or markers. Cut out the them together and wave
completed outline, write the them in all directions to
guests name on it and hang it acknowledge Gods sovereignty
on your sukkah wall. over nature while saying the
appropriate blessing.
SING: Purchase a music cd
from a Jewish book store With your child: Visit a
and play it in your sukkah. Jewish bookstore to see,
Page Four CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME October, 2011
Tishrei, 5772
Sukkot and Simchat Torah
Recommended selection of books
For 2 4 year olds Greater than Gold and Silver by Rav N.
Lets Build a Sukkah, pictures by Ehrmann, Feldheim, 2009. What happens
K.J.Kahn, Kar-Ben Copies, Inc., when a poor peddler buys the only etrog
1991. Two year olds enjoy in town? Will he sell his mitzvah for a
the feel and look of this vast fortune? The answers lie in this
ten-page board book that fascinating story.
includes a simple story
with few words. Ktontons Sukkot Adventure
by Sadie Rose Weilerstein,
Tamars Sukkah, E. Jewish Publication Society,
Gellman, Kar-Ben Copies, 1993. Ktonton, the lovable
Inc., 1999. In this board Jewish Tom Thumb, has
book Tamars friends cast a magic spell on
help her decorate her children for generations.
sukkah. From the moment of Ktontons enchanted arrival,
he takes us on a magic carpet ride into the magical
Its Sukkah Time! by L.B.Kropf, Kar-Ben Publishing, synagogue, where he swings dangerously from the
Inc., 2004. This charming book includes Sukkot end of a lulav (palm branch). Enjoy this marvelous
blessings, craft activities, and beautiful photos of adventure and learn about Sukkot, its traditions, and
children who build, decorate and enjoy their sukkah. its rituals.

For 4-7 year olds For 6-10 year olds

Night Lights: A Sukkot Story by B.D. Goldin, UAHC My Very Own Simchat Torah by J.R. Saypol & M.
Press, 1995. A young boy learns about the meaning, Wikler, Kar-Ben Copies, Inc.,1981. Explanations of
history and customs of Sukkot while overcoming his Simchat Torahs essential elements are presented,
fear of the dark. along with several songs in this book, appropriate for
children and their parents.
Bubbe Isabella and the Sukkot Cake by K.
Terwilliger, Kar-Ben Publishing, 2005. Every evening The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story by E.A.
Bubbe Isabella invites holiday guests to enjoy her Kimmel, Holiday House, 2008. Each of two brothers
special lemon cake in her sukkah. What a surprise celebrates Sukkot by building a sukkah. The very
when she learns that the guests are more interested rich one adorns his with great riches, celebrating with
in nibbling the sukkah than in trying her cake! only the richest guests, while his poor brother builds a
sukkah with found materials and invites all to share with
Hillel Builds A House by S. Lepon, Kar-Ben him. Three mysterious guests visit each brother, leaving
Copies, Inc., 1993. Hillel loves to build a different behind a special blessing.
kind of house for each holiday. In preparation for
Sukkot, his parents help him build a sukkah. For 8-11 year olds
All About Sukkot, by J. Groner & M. Wikler, Kar-Ben
Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express by D. B. Copies, Inc., 1998. This beautifully illustrated book, a
Cohen, Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010. At the start of wonderful resource for children and parents, includes
Sukkot, Engineer Ari drives his train to Jerusalem, information on Sukkot, a Sukkot story, a home
stopping along the way to gather branches and fruit Sukkot service and traditional songs.
for his backyard sukkah. When Sukkot begins, while
Ari is sad that his friends cant help him celebrate, And Websites:
his pals Jessie and Nathaniel have a surprise waiting
for him at the train station This is a sequel to the
Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner Engineer Ari and
the Rosh Hashanah Ride.

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