Sukkot (also spelled Succoth or Sukkos) is a Jewish harvest festival that generally occurs in late October. One of the happiest events on the Jewish calendar, it is commonly known as “the Season of our Rejoicing.”
Sukkot commemorates the end of the 40 year period that Moses and his followers wandered in the desert and lived in temporary shelters. The word “Sukkot” is the plural of “sukkah,” which means “huts” or “booths.”
During the seven days of the festival, Jews are commanded to dwell in sukkot. Since few live in climates that allow them to sleep outside in October, most fulfill the requirement to “dwell” in a sukkah by eating all their meals there.
Generally, building the sukkah is a family project; once the structure is in place, the kids help decorate it with fruits and flowers of the season including dried squash, stalks of corn, bunches of grapes, painted pumpkins and branches laden with berries.
Another commandment involving Sukkot features what are known as the Four Species: a citron (known in Hebrew as etrog), a palm branch, two willow branches and three myrtle branches. The branches are bound together and called a “lulav.” The observant face East, hold the lulav and etrog, recite a blessing, then wave them East, South, West, North, up and down.
For those who can’t dwell in a sukkah, or shake the lulav and esrog on their own, the Chabad Lubavith has set up a mobile sukkah and it driving it through the streets of Brooklyn. Today it was parked downtown, near Borough Hall.
The curious and the pious were welcomed into the wooden hut on the back of a truck, where volunteers placed the Four Species in their hands. If the visitors didn’t know the proper blessing, they were prompted and if they didn’t know what to do with the Four Species, they were shown.