Building a Sukkah – A Children’s Event for the Whole Family
Building a sukkah, or temporary hut, is an important custom during the weeklong Jewish festival of Sukkot. The Book of Vayikra (Leviticus) describes a sukkah as a symbolic shelter. It commemorates God’s provision for the Israelites in the wilderness after they were freed from slavery in Egypt. Families top the hut with branches and decorate it with autumn, harvest or Judaic themes.
During Sukkot, believers often eat, sleep and spend time in the sukkah.The hut symbolizes the frailty and transience of life and our dependence on God. Sukkot is a joyous occasion and is known in Hebrew as Yom Simchateinu (the day of our rejoicing) or Z’man Simchateinu (the time of our rejoicing).
Led by Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels, our program offered an introduction to Sukkot and building a sukkah. Rabbi Neil explained the festival’s meaning and symbolism as children and parents made decorations with craft materials and hung them in the sukkah. The kids and parents learned about important rituals such as waving the lulav, a bouquet made of a palm frond, myrtle and willow branches, and a citron.
Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels
Temple Beth Shir Shalom, Santa Monica, CA
Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels brings his passionate expression of Judaism and strong sense of social justice to Temple Beth Shir Shalom. With his congregation, he facilitates Jewish community and spiritual discovery and works toward Tikkun Olam – “healing the world.”
A founding member of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Rabbi Neil has chaired the Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition and the Interfaith Holocaust Service. With his musical and writing talent, he communicates the Jewish tradition’s riches and composes for people of all spiritualities. He recently released an album for children, “On This Day and All the Time,” and published I Miss You, a book of poems, prayers, songs and guidance for adults helping grieving children. A graduate of UCLA, Rabbi Neil was ordained in 1979 at the Hebrew Union College.