Sukkot Traditions


Our Sukkah this year

An ancient Jewish belief considers the first day of Sukkot to be the day on which a person begins accumulating sins for the next year. To start the new year off right, many people begin building their sukkah right after Yom Kippur (you can also start making the decorations which is fun for everyone).

The sukkah is a temporary house, where you eat (and sometimes sleep) for the holiday. It is a reminder of the forty years we spent in the desert going to Israel.


Sukkot celebrates the clouds that protected Israel in the desert, while they wandered for forty years. These clouds were the Shekhinah (presence of HaShem). The Shekhinah protected Israel from all sides and from above. The tabernacles are also a celebration of the tents the Israelites lived in while they wandered in the desert.

The reason for celebrating Sukkot after Yom Kippur is that after atoning on Yom Kippur we are like a clean slate. With this fresh beginning, we are especially capable of fulfilling the mitzvah of Joy on Sukkot. Joy is an important part of the celebration.

Also, during the fall harvest, farmers would live in Sukkot on the edges of their fields while they completed the harvest.

The only rules about building a Sukkah are that it must have at least three sides, and we must be able to see through the skhakh (the "ceiling" of the Sukkah), so that the stars are visible at night.


A  skhakh is traditionally made up of palm fronds, but can be made from the branches of any tree, as long as it is live when it is cut.

Some people have a tradition of building a Sukkah so that it resembles one of the letters of the word Sukkah.  The Samech, is a closed Sukkah.

It has a moveable side (usually a sheet) for a door.


The Kaf is a three-sided Sukkah.


The Hay is a Sukkah that has a partial opening on one of the three sides.


Many people like to decorate their Sukkah. They use their Rosh Hashanah cards up, and decorate with fruit and other things. This tradition helps make the Sukkah a pretty and fun place to be.

You made paper chains, by cutting multi-colored construction paper into strips, and linking them together. You used Swamp-Black-Eyed Susans on the Skhakh to add color. Also, we put fruits inside. To hang fruit, take a length of string, a fruit and a crochet needle. Pierce the fruit with the crochet needle and catch the thread on the other side, using the crochet needle to pull it through to the other side. (You usually double up on strong thread to make sure it'll stand up to wind.) You can use fruits grown in Israel, like lemons, oranges, apples, and especially pomegranate.


You also use things that grow in the South, like gourds, pumpkins, and Indian corn. If you live in a place where the trees turn different colors for fall, you can use the leaves to add color to your Sukkah as well.



4 Species



Citron (Etrog)


Palm Branch (Lulav)


Myrtle (Hadas)


Willow (Arava)


The most important symbol of Sukkot is the sukkah itself. It is a small hut (or booth), there is no permanent roof we use branches to cover the top. Many congregations have a sukkah they build in their courtyard.

 A Sukkah must have a chair in it, and should also have a table. If you sleep in your Sukkah, a cot is a good idea. After all the decorating, you can spend time in a Sukkah and feel like you are at home away from home.

The Lulav is an important part of Sukkot as well. It's made up of four special plants that grow in Israel. The main part of a lulav is a heart of palm. On either side are branches from a Hadas, or myrtle, and an Aravah, or willow. You bind these together using palm, and hold it in your hand with an Etrog, or citron. The Etrog must have a nub on the end of it, called a Pitom. It must also have the nub where it was separated from the tree,

and should be smooth.


You hold the Lulav together in both hands, and say the blessing and then shake it to the North, then the south, then the West, and then the East.


I especially like to smell the Hadas, Aravah, and Etrog.

Each has a special smell, and they remind me of the trees in Israel.


In Israel, many people live in apartment buildings. If you live in an apartment, where can you put your Sukkah? Well, many Israelis put theirs on their balconies. Some make a Sukkah for the entire apartment building to share. During Sukkot in Israel, you can drive around and look at the buildings-almost

every one has at least one Sukkah.

It is a tradition among some Jews to save their Lulavim until the next Passover and use them to sweep up the bread crumbs after they search for chametz. It is a really nice way to tie holidays together.





Yield: 6 servings


7 cups water

2 cups wild rice - (about 12 ounces)

3 small acorn squash - (each about 10-12 ounces), cut in half, seeded

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups finely chopped onions

2 teaspoons crumbled dried sage leaves

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3 tablespoons dried cranberries - additional (about 3 - 1/2 ounces)

1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

3 tablespoons chopped toasted hazelnuts - additional (about 3 ounces)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Bring 7 cups water and rice to boil in heavy large saucepan. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 1 hour. Drain. Transfer rice to large bowl.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil baking sheet. Place squash cut side down on sheet. Bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Cool. Using spoon, scoop out pulp from squash, leaving 1/4 inch thick shell, reserve shells. Transfer pulp to medium bowl. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, saute until very tender, about 15 minutes. Add sage, stir 2 minutes. Add rice, squash pulp, lemon juice, stir until mixed, breaking up squash pulp into smaller pieces. Mix in 1/2 cup cranberries, 1/2 cup hazelnuts and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.


Divide rice mixture among reserved squash shells. Place in roasting pan. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)


Bake squash until filling is heated through, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons cranberries and 3 tablespoons hazelnuts.




Yield: about 8 servings


A plump, very fresh 10 - 12 lb pumpkin with a wide, steady base

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds beef, cut in 1" cubes

2 tablespoons brandy

1 cup coarsely chopped green onion

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

3 large minced garlic cloves

3 cups beef stock

1 cup madeira or dry sherry

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp pepper

1 1/2 pounds white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes

1/2 lb zucchini, slices about 1/4" thick

1 cup corn

12-14 dried apricots

12-14 pitted prunes

1/2 cup butter (parve margarine to make kosher)

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons cinnamon

Pinch ground cloves

Scrub pumpkin well.


Heat 3 tablespoons oil in 5 quart casserole over medium heat. Add beef in batches to brown on all sides. Warm brandy, ignite and pour over beef. Transfer meat to platter and set aside. In same casserole pot, combine oil, onion, green pepper and garlic, cooking over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add stock and madeira and bring to boil. Scrape sides and return meat and juices to pot.


Stir in tomatoes, salt, oregano, pepper, bay leaf, and cloves. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes. Add potatoes and cook 15 minutes more. Stir in zucchini and cook 10 minutes more. Add corn, apricots and prunes and cook another 5 minutes. Keep stew warm on low heat while preparing pumpkin.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut pumpkin about 3 or 4 inches from top to form a lid and do not remove stem! Scrape out seeds and string fibers from lid and base. Brush melted pareve margarine (the paper says butter but...) inside pumpkin and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Replace lid and bake pumpkin in roasting pan about 40 minutes.


Pour juices from pumpkin into stew and stir well. Place stew into pumpkin and bake about 15 minutes longer.



Yield: 10 servings


10 medium Apples, washed and dried

2 1/2 cups Sugar

1/2 cup White corn syrup

1/2 cup Water

1 teaspoon Vanilla

Red Food Coloring

Insert skewers into the blossom end of the apples. Combine sugar, syrup, water, vanilla and coloring. Cook, without stirring, to hard-crack stage or 380 degrees F on candy thermometer. Crystals which form on side of the pan, should not be stirred into the candy during cooking. Remove from the heat. Dip apples, holding by skewers, into the syrup. Place on buttered tray or platter. Cool.


NOTES: You can do candy recipes without a candy thermometer, you just have to 'test' it to see when it gets to the right temperature. To test for hard crack stage: Have a glass of COLD water ready. To test: use a spoon and drizzle a thread of candy into cold water. If it hardens into hard, brittle threads when it goes into the water (it will snap easily like glass) it has reached hard crack stage. With a little practice, you can manage without a candy thermometer just fine.



Yield: 48 slices


2-1/4 cups flour

1 cup sour cream

1 cup butter

2 cups fruit preserves (peach, apricot, etc.)

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

Blend flour, sour cream and butter in bowl. Cover and chill for one hour. Divide dough into 4 parts. Roll each to a 13-by-6-inch rectangle (on a floured board). Spread 1/2 cup preserves along one 13-inch side to width of 1-1/2 inches. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup coconut and a tablespoon of nuts.


Starting with 13-inch side, roll up jellyroll fashion. Seal edges and ends. Place, seam side down, on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 450-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar, (if desired). Cut into slices.


From: Lita (alotzkar@direct.ca)




Yield: 14 servings


4 pounds Golden Delicious or Spartan apples, cored, peeled, sliced 1/4" thick

1/2 cup frozen unsweetened apple juice concentrate, thawed

3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, * see note

2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar

Grated zest of 2 oranges and 1 lemon

1/4 cup sherry

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3 firm bananas, sliced, **see note

2 ripe pears, peeled, halved cored, cut into 1//4" slice

1 bunch dark grapes in season- or 12 pitted prunes, poached in sherry and halved

1/2 cup melted cranberry or currant jelly, (for glaze)

*scrubbed and baked in their skins until tender


** sprinkled with 3 tbsp orange juice


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.


2. Layer the apples in rows in a 3-qt rectangular or oval casserole sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray. Brush with apple juice, cover, and bake for about 20 minutes (or in a microwave oven on HIGH for about 5 minutes.)


3. Peel the baked sweet potatoes and puree in a blender or food processor. When pureed, add the brown sugar, orange and lemon zest, sherry, cinnamon and nutmeg. Blend well.


4. Place half the sweet potato mixture over the cooked apples and smooth the surface.


5. Arrange half the banana slices, sliced pears and grapes in diagonal rows over the sweet potato mixture.


6. Cover with the remaining sweet potato mixture and arrange the remaining fruit in rows on top.


7. Glaze the fruit with melted jelly, using all of the glaze.


8. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes.



Yield: 6 people (depends on the size of the chicken)


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon

4 1/2 to 5 pounds broiler-fryer

4 ounces dried prunes

4 ounces dried apricots

1 cup fruity white wine

1 tart apple, peeled, thinly sliced

1 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary

1/4 cup honey

Combine oil, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, orange and lemon zest. Rub over chicken, inside and out. Cover and refrigerate overnight, turning once or twice.


Soak prunes and apricots in wine until plump. Drain, reserving wine. Mix dried fruit with apples and rosemary. Stuff chicken with fruit mixture and truss. Brush skin all over with honey.


Place chicken breast up in roasting pan just large enought to hold bird. Roast at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for l5 minutes. Turn over, brush with honey, and roast l5 minutes longer. Remove from pan and pour off drippings. Place any leftover fruit and reserved wine in pan, top with chicken, breast up.


Reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and roast for 1 1/4 hours, or until brown and crisp, basting occasionally. Cover with foil if browning too fast. Remove chicken to a platter, let stand l0 minutes. Slice and serve with fruit and gravy.




Yield: 4-6 servings


1 boned and trimmed lamb shoulder, about 1 3/4 pounds

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme


4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound onion, (1 large) coarsely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 cup dry red wine

2 cups lamb, chicken, or veal stock

6 ounces tomatoes, ends removed and coarsely chopped

5 1/2 ounces blanched whole almonds, lightly toasted *SEE NOTE

1 whole pitted prunes, (4 ounces)

1 whole dried apricots, (4 ounces)

*NOTE: about 20 minutes on a baking tray in a preheated 350 degree oven until lightly browned


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay the lamb skin-side down and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each cumin and pepper and 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Roll and tie well with butcher's string. Season the outside lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a flame-proof, oven-proof casserole pan slightly larger than the lamb. Brown the lamb on all sides, then pour off the oil. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and, over medium-high heat, cook until the onion has colored slightly, 4 to 5 minutes.


Sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of cumin and the rosemary, deglaze the pan with the red wine and bring to a boil. Pour in stock and add tomatoes, season with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, cover and transfer to the oven. Braise until almost tender, about 1 hour.


Remove the meat and keep warm. With a slotted spoon, separate the vegetables from the sauce and puree in a blender. Return puree to the sauce and reduce just until the sauce thickens slightly. Strain into a clean casserole pan and season with salt and pepper to taste.


Place the meat in the sauce, surround with the almonds, prunes and apricots and return to the oven for about 15 minutes longer, until the lamb is very tender and the dried fruit is soft. If the sauce thickens too much, thin with a little stock. Cut lamb into thin slices and arrange on heated plates. Spoon some sauce over lamb slices, placing the prunes and apricots on and around the meat. Serve immediately. Have remaining sauce available in a small bowl.


To prepare ahead, strain the sauce into a clean casserole. At serving time, return the meat to the pan, along with the prunes and apricots and continue with the recipe.




Yield: 6 cups


6 oranges or 6 small graperuit, peels only

3 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

4 cups sugar, approximately

Confectioner's sugar

Peel the fruit, removing as much of the white pith as possible. Slice peel into strips about 3- inches long and 1/2- inch wide. Let them curl up. Put peels in a large crock and add water and salt. Leave overnight.


Drain the peels and rinse thoroughly. Put in a saucepan of cold water and bring to a boil. Immediately after the water boils, drain the peels. Repeat this procedure 3 times. Weigh the peels.


Put an equal weight of sugar into a heavy-based pan (about 3 cups), then add half that amount of water (about 1-1/2 cups) and bring to a boil without stirring. As soon as the syrup boils, add the peels and reduce the heat to low. Cook without stirring until all the syrup has been absorbed. Remove the peels, separate with a fork, and drain on wire racks with waxed paper beneath to catch the drips. When peels are cool enough to handle, pour 1 cup sugar into a shallow bowl and roll the peels in it, adding more sugar if necessary.


Spread out the peels on racks and let dry, lightly covered with parchment or waxed paper, in a warm place for 2 days. Roll again, this time in confectioner's sugar, then store in airtight tins.


Makes 6 cups.


VARIATION: Try other thick-skinned citrus peels. Make an attractive curled shape by stringing the peels on a thread before soaking them in brine, parboiling, and dipping in syrup.


This candy is traditionally served during Sukkot.


NOTE: Pomerantzen means oranges in Yiddish.




Yield: 16 servings


1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup port or other sweet red wine

1 tablespoon grated orange rind

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

2 8 ounce pkgs dried mixed friut, diced

1 3-inch cinnamon stick

5 1/3 cups diced cooking apple, (about 2 pounds)

1/4 cup stick margarine

4 teaspoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

16 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

Cooking spray

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat and simmer fruit mixture 35 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Remove fruit mixture from heat and stir in apple. Cool, uncovered and discard cinnamon stick.


2. Combine the margarine and oil in a small saucepan; cook over low heat until the margarine melts, stirring well. Combine the breadcrumbs and nutmeg in a small bowl.


3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


4. Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large cuting board or work surface (cover the remaining dough to keep from drying) and lightly brush with margarine mixture. Sprinkle 1- 1/2 tsp of the breadcrumb mixture lengthwise down the 4- inch center section of phyllo. Spoon 1/3 cup of fruit mixture onto the breadcrumb mixture about 2- inches from one short end, spreading fruit mixture to form a 4 x 2- inch rectangle.


5. Fold one long side of phyllo over filling and repeat with other long side, overlapping the phyllo. Starting at short edge with filling, roll up phyllo jelly-roll fashion. (Do not roll tightly, or the strudel may split.) Place strudel, seam side down on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat strudel with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with the remaining phyllo, margarine mixture, breadcrumb mixture, and fruit mixture.


6. Bake for 30 minutes or until strudel is golden brown Serve warm or at room temperature.






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