Your Incomplete Sukkot Rough Guide

From the Thanksgiving connection, through your psychological analysis, recycling and how all of this has to do with Iraq – Here are Five less-known facts about the third Holiday of the Jewish calendar.

  1. The Iraqi-American connection

In pre-independence North American colonies Jews would follow an old Iraqi custom of preparing fashioned birds out of hollow eggs in memory of departed family members. The custom probably reached North America as the first communities in the region were Sephardic.

Family sitting in their Sukkah, Baghdad, Iraq 1928 (Beth Hatefutsoth Photo Archive)

  1. The Sukkah-Boat

How about this for a romantic holiday – a sukkah boat in Venice! Guests can enjoy the canals under a canopy of branches.

Sukkah posed on a boat in the canals of the Ghetto in Venice, Italy 2004 (Beth Hatefutsoth Photo Archive, courtesy of Ya’akov Brill, Israel)

  1. Dream time!

The Talmud states – dreaming about an Etrog (The fruit of a Citrus tree) means that God considers us precious. This is based on a verse from the book of Leviticus.

Farmer from Yemen examining the fruit of a Citrus tree, Israel, 1950s (Beth Hatefutsoth Photo Archive, Sonnenfeld

  1. Recycle your Sukkot gear

Way before the re-cycling trend Jews were doing it with their Sukkot gear! Pieces of dried Etrog combined with cloves to enhance the spices were used during Havdalah. The Lulav and Myrtle branches were lit as kindling when we searching and burning Chametz before Passover.

The cantor blessing of the Lulav in the Synagogue, Bombay, India 1979 (Beth Hatefutsoth Photo Archive, Carmel Berkson Collection)

  1. Did Sukkot help shape Thanksgiving?

According to some historians, Thanksgiving, celebrated since 1623 owes its origins to Sukkot. The festivals have several similarities: both include thanksgiving to God for the Fall harvest.

Sukkot. Dining in the Sukkah. Frankfurt, Germany, c.1900 Postcard after a painting by Hermann Junker (1838-1899). A. Rothschild Publishers (Beth Hatefutsoth Photo Archive)


Beit Hatfutsot