On the evening of Wednesday, 5 September 2017, the festival of Sukkot begins. The Civil Air Patrol Chaplain Corps wants to wish everyone celebrating this joyous occasion, “Chag Sameach!”
Be sure to read the recent blog post on the significance of all the Jewish “High Holidays” from the perspective of one who lives them which was written by Lt. Col. Karen Semple, a character development instructor from the Montana Wing of CAP.
What is Sukkot?
Sukkot or Succot (Hebrew: סוכות or סֻכּוֹת) is one of three festivals proscribed in Jewish religious texts. The name is commonly translated as Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of the Ingathering, or Feast of Booths). The holiday is celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei which varies from late September to late October. Until 70 A.D., it was one of three festivals that required the Israelites to take a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.
The holiday actually has two meanings in the life of those who celebrate. The first one is mentioned in the Book of Exodus which is an agricultural harvest “thanksgiving” —”Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end” (Exodus 34:22)—which marks the end of the harvest time in the Land of Israel. The more important religious significance of the holiday during modern times comes from the Book of Leviticus. This text describes the Exodus which was a time when the People of Israel depended on the will of God (Leviticus 23:42-43).
The Hebrew word sukkot means a “walled structure covered with s’chach“ — plant material such as overgrowth or palm leaves. It is the name of the temporary dwelling in which farmers would live during harvesting giving or that the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. During the entire celebration period, meals are eaten inside the sukkah. Many people sleep there as well. Everyday it is mandatory to perform a waving ceremony with the Four Species.
Celebrations vary depending on where a person lives. The festival lasts seven days for celebrants in Israel and eight days for Jews living outside that country — “the diaspora“. The first day (and second day in the diaspora) is a Shabbat-like holiday when work is forbidden. This holy time is followed by “intermediate days” called Chol Hamoed, when certain work is permitted. The festival is closed with another Shabbat-like holiday called Shemini Atzeret (one day in Israel, two days in the diaspora, where the second day is called Simchat Torah). Shemini Atzeret coincides with the eighth day of Sukkot outside of Israel.
This material comes from multiple sources online including Wikipedia and various Jewish websites