Sukkot, considered one of the happiest times in the Jewish calendar, comes out 15 days after the Jewish new year and five days after Yom Kippur. It is the first harvest festival of the year, and it also commemorates the 40 years of wandering the Israelites underwent in the desert on their way to Canaan, the promised land. During the time of the temples in Jerusalem, people came to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage (called an aliyah laregel – ascending by foot) for this festival with fruits and other gifts to offer as sacrifices in the temple. Within an hour or two of the fast of Yom Kippur ending, you can hear hammering and drilling around town.
Many of Jerusalem’s residents seize the opportunity to prepare for Sukkot, the Feast of Booths, by building their sukkot, the temporary structures in which Jews dwell for the seven days of the holiday. To be exact, the last day, although attached to Sukkot, is a different holiday, namely the Simchat Torah, the day that celebrates the completion of the annual cycle, the reading of the Torah. It is commemorated with much singing and dancing at synagogues – and even on the streets – with Torah scrolls, throughout Jerusalem, Israel, and the entire Jewish world. This year, Sukkot begins before sundown on October 9, and it ends after sundown on October 16. Sukkot is one of the most vibrant times of the year in Jerusalem. Here is an overview of the annual events that take place in Jerusalem over Sukkot. You are more than welcome to come and join in the festivities!