What is Sukkot?
Sukkot is an eight-day fall harvest holiday that starts four days after Yom Kippur. Sukkot is also known as the Festival of Booths and the Feast of Tabernacles.
How does Fabrangen celebrate Sukkot?
Each year, Fabrangen gathers for morning religious services in celebration of the first day of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret. These Festival services are special gems of the liturgical year. In many ways, these services resemble our Shabbat services. We meet at the same location (WES), and services are led by members or guests of the Community, rather than by paid clergy.
However, these Festival morning services have their own distinctive “nusach” (special singing melodies for the prayers), special holiday Torah portions, and unique liturgical traditions. For example, on the first day of Sukkot, we conduct the impressive ceremony of Netilat Lulav (waving of the lulav and etrog), Hoshanot prayers, and procession with the lulav and etrog. The Tefilat Geshem (prayer for rain) is recited on Shemini Atzeret.
Yizkor (memorial service) is part of the Shemini Atzeret service and provides an opportunity to experience the moving liturgy for remembering deceased relatives and friends in an intimate setting, as compared with the large-group experience of the Yom Kippur Yizkor service.
The spirit of these Fabrangen Festival morning services is both celebratory and educational, with opportunities for newcomers to learn about and participate in the special rituals of the holiday. The services begin and end with the same greeting: “Chag sameiach” (a joyful holiday!)
Building a Community Sukkah:
It is traditional to build a temporary dwelling, or “sukkah,” to commemorate both the huts that the Jews built near the edges of their fields during the harvest season and the temporary dwellings that the Jews built during the 40 years they wandered in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt.
The Community Sukkah is constructed at the home of one of our members in Northwest DC. Members of the community are invited to help build and decorate the sukkah each year; it’s fun and no prior experience is necessary! Kids love helping build the sukkah!
Events in the Community Sukkah include:
- Erev Sukkot services and potluck dinner on the first evening of the holiday
- Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat services and potluck dinner
- Teen sleepovers
- Study sessions, some of which have included welcoming the “ushpizin” and “ushpizot” into the sukkah – our male (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David) and female ancestors (Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Avigail, Hannah, Huldah, and Esther)
- Havdalah service
- Children’s programs in the sukkah, including games and crafts to decorate the sukkah