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Non-Orthodox Jews shown under a Sukkah, a structure built each year and adorned with plants. See comment below. (Larger Version)

Sukkot (סוכות / סכות) is an 8-day Biblical pilgrimage festival; it is also known as The Feast of Booths (Tabernacles). This holiday is observed within the religion of Judaism.

The first two days of the festival are celebrated as full holidays. The following five days are known as Hol Hamoed - weekdays that retain some aspects of the festival. The seventh day (fifth of the intermediate days) is Hoshanah Rabbah and has a special observance of its own. The last day (the eighth) is celebrated as a separate holiday, with its own special prayers and customs (see below). Erev Sukkot, the first night of the holiday, is on Tishri 14, so the first day of Sukkot is on the 15th day of Tishri.

Sukkot commemorates the life of the Israelites in the desert during their journey to the land of Israel. During their wandering in the desert they lived in sukkot (booths). According to halakha a sukkah requires that the top covering of branches, called schach, must ensure that the top lets in very little sun-light, creating near-total shade. Note that the Sukkah in the picture depicted above is an American Reform version, not constructed according to Jewish law. It is thus not acceptable for use by Orthodox or Conservative Jews.

The Torah (five books of Moses) directs Jews to use four species of plants to celebrate the holiday: The Etrog (citron, a large yellow citrus fruit), [Lulav]] (palm branch myrtle branch and a branch of willow) . The etrog is handled separately, while the other three species are bound together, and are collectively referred to as the lulav.

In Israel, Sukkot is eight days long, including Shemini Atzeret. Outside Israel (the Diaspora), Sukkot is nine days long. Thus the eighth day is Shemini Atzeret, and the extra (ninth) day is Simchat Torah (rejoicing with the Torah). In Israel, the festivities and customs associated with Simchat Torah are celebrated on Shemini Atzeret.

The last portion of the Torah is read on this day. The following Shabbat (Sabbath), Torah readings start again at the beginning of Genesis. Prayer services are unconventionally joyous, and humorous deviations from the standard service are allowed, and even expected.

See also:

Sukkot is also used as a place name. The information below states those places, based on the Biblical record. Modern day archeology may not know of these places yet. The material below is an article from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897. It does not reflect modern opinions or recent discoveries in Biblical scholarship. Please help the Wikipedia by bringing this article up to date.

Sukkot - booths.

(1.) The first encampment of the Israelites after leaving Ramses (Ex. 12:37); the civil name of Pithom[?].

(2.) A city on the east of Jordan, identified with Tell Dar'ala, a high mound, a mass of debris, in the plain north of Jabbok[?] and about one mile from it (Josh. 13:27). Here Jacob (Gen 32:17, 30; 33:17), on his return from Paddan-aram[?] after his interview with Esau, built a house for himself and made "booths" for his cattle.

(3.) The princes of this city refused to afford help to Gideon and his 300 men when "faint yet pursuing" they followed one of the bands of the fugitive Midianites after the great victory at Gilboa. After overtaking and routing this band at Karkor, Gideon on his return visited the rulers of the city with severe punishment. "He took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth" (Judg. 8:13-16). At this place were erected the foundries for casting the metal-work for the temple (1 Kings 7:46).

From Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897)

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