24th September 2004 at 01:00
September 29 - October 8 Sukkot

The Jewish harvest festival primarily commemorates the years the Jews spent in the desert following their exodus from Egypt.

Outline script for assembly leaders Some of you (at some time in your life) may have been allowed to spend a night sleeping in a tent in your garden. Imagine your whole family choosing to do that for a whole week.

At this time of year, Jewish families who observe Sukkot do something very similar. They build a kind of hut, usually from wood. The roof is made from leaves and branches, but there must be gaps through which you can see the sky.

It is usually decorated with fruit and is called a sukkah (sukkot is the plural).

They do this to remember the 40 years their ancestors spent wandering in the desert after they had escaped from slavery in Egypt and before they reached their "Promised Land", now known as Israel. During that journey, they slept in temporary huts or booths, known as sukkot.

A modern sukkah should also be temporary and even flimsy. Depending on the climate, the family either sleeps in it for a week or just eats meals in it. Sometimes, a large sukkah is built near a synagogue.

During synagogue services in this week (also called the Feast of Tabernacles), people hold branches of palm, myrtle and willow which are tied together. This is called the lulav. During the service, the lulav is pointed in all four directions and then upwards and downwards to show that God can be found in all directions. It is also waved in thanksgiving at their escape from slavery. They also hold up a citrus fruit called an etrog in thanksgiving for all the fruits and plants of God's creation. In this way, Sukkot is a kind of harvest festival. More recently, Sukkot has become a time for remembering the needs of refugees.


The rules for observing Sukkot are in Leviticus 23, 33-4, 39-43.

* Build a sukkah in the playground or hold a harvest festival. This could include a display of local produce or items representing things for which pupils have been especially grateful during the last year.

* Write the words for a modern harvest or conservation hymn.

* Detailed information about Sukkot can be found at and through links from (click on "Holidays").


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