Chag sameach! It’s Sukkot – the Feast of Booths. You’ve probably seen people building their sukkahs (booths) or built one yourself. If you want to build one yourself but don’t know how, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to MJTI’s Sukkah-Building Guide.
1. Build the walls. You can build 2.5, 3, or 4 walls. You can use anything you want to build your sukkah, except anything that comes from an animal. Remember that during Sukkot, your sukkah is technically your home! You’ll want to make it sturdy. Most people eat at least one meal a day in their sukkah, and some people even sleep in it.
2. Build the roof (sechach). The sechach should be built from natural tree branches, leaves, or bamboo. You’ll want to cover enough of the roof so that it creates shade, but keep it a little spaced out so you can still see the stars. Make sure your sukkah is under the open sky, so there are no canopies, overhanging branches, etc., overhead. If your sukkah is large, it’s okay to used unfinished wood beams to create a frame for your sechach to rest on.
3. The fun step – decoration! Since people typically eat at least a daily meal in the sukkah, so set up tables and chairs. Don’t forget some kind of lighting – just make sure it’s weatherproof. Also, because of the flammable nature of the roof and/or walls, candles or open flames are not recommended. Typical sukkah decorations are paper chains, banners, and seven particular species of fruit: grapes, pomegranates, figs, dates, olives, wheat, and barley. Pomegranates or dates are especially popular. Fruit-themed decorations can be real, artificial, or just art – get creative with it! If you have children, make sure to include them in sukkah decorating with fun crafts. Keep your eyes peeled for a special MJTI post about that later in the week.
4. Prepare a place for the etrog and lulav where it will be protected from the elements.
5. Invite guests! It’s a mitzvah (commandment) to have guests in your sukkah. Eat a delicious meal under the sky and enjoy all the hard work you’ve done to make an amazing sukkah!
This post was written by MJTI Academic Dean Rabbi Dr. Vered Hillel.