Sukkot & Simchat Torah

What is Sukkot?

Sukkot begins Friday evening, September 29 and lasts until Friday, October 6. Also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot commemorates the Israelites 40-year sojourn in the Sinai Desert, following their Exodus from Egypt, on their way to the Land of Israel. The holiday, which lasts a week, is celebrated by constructing temporary shack-like structures, sukkot. Observant Jews eat all their meals in the sukkah (singular), and generally spend their time there, even sleeping in the sukkah. A sukkah must be built of natural materials, and its roof must permit a view of the stars, helping to reconnect us to nature. It is customary to host guests in the sukkah.

What is Simchat Torah?

Simchat Torah, which means "Rejoicing with the Torah," is celebrated the day immediately following Sukkot. This year, it's Saturday, October 7 to Sunday, October 8, 2023. Marking the end of the cycle of Torah portions read each week at synagogue, the holiday celebrates the close of one cycle and the beginning of another. This joyous day is celebrated by removing the Torah scrolls from the ark in the synagogue and parading them around, even out in the street in some communities, as congregants dance and sing around the Torah. Festive drinking is also customary on this day.