Out of respect for the sanctity of the holiday, please print out this holiday guide before the onset of the holiday (sundown Wednesday, October 16, 2024), and keep handy throughout the holiday for reference purposes.

How To Celebrate Sukkot


Sukkot 2024 (October 16-23, 2024)

Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish holiday that comes five days after Yom Kippur. Sukkot celebrates the gathering of the harvest and commemorates the miraculous protection G‑d provided for the children of Israel when they left Egypt. We celebrate Sukkot by dwelling in a foliage-covered booth (known as a sukkah) and by taking together the “Four Kinds” (arba minim), four special species of vegetation.

The first two days (sundown on October 16 until nightfall on October 18 in 2024, and only until nightfall on Oct. 17 in Israel) of the holiday are yom tov, when work is forbidden, candles are lit in the evening, and festive meals are preceded by Kiddush and include challah dipped in honey.

The intermediate days (nightfall on October 18 until sundown on October 23 in 2024) are quasi holidays, known as Chol Hamoed. We dwell in the sukkah and take the Four Kinds every day of Sukkot (except for Shabbat, when we do not take the Four Kinds).

The final two days (in 2024, from sundown on October 23 until nightfall on October 25, only Oct. 24 in Israel) are a separate holiday: Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah.

Dwelling in the Sukkah

A sukkah on an outdoor balcony.
A sukkah on an outdoor balcony.

For seven days and nights, we eat all our meals in the sukkah and otherwise regard it as our home. Located under the open sky, the sukkah is made up of at least three walls and a roof of unprocessed natural vegetation—often bamboo (sometimes in the form of convenient bamboo rolls), pine boughs or palm branches.

You can either purchase a prefabricated sukkah or build one on your own. Here are some basic rules to be aware of:

  • Is there a roof or tree over your intended sukkah location? The answer needs to be “no” for the sukkah to work.
  • You can be creative with the walls, but you need to have at least two walls and a partial third wall (that conforms to very specific criteria) for the sukkah. The walls need to be somewhat firm, not flapping in the breeze, so use boards, or well-tied fabrics.
  • The covering must have been harvested from the ground, not be food, and not have been fashioned into a utensil. Neither can it be a wide beam, such as the ones used for permanent roofing (generally about a foot wide). Narrower beams are technically OK, but it is best not to use anything that even looks like a regular roof. It must not have any use other than providing (imperfect) shade. So repurposed building materials and 2x4s are out, as are raw animal hide and synthetic mesh.

(Read more here: How to Build a Sukkah)

The goal is to spend as much time as possible in the sukkah, at the very minimum eating all meals in the sukkah—particularly the festive meals on the first two nights of the holiday, when we must eat at least an olive-sized piece of bread or mezonot (grain-based food) in the sukkah. The Chabad practice is to not eat or drink anything outside the sukkah. Some people even sleep in the sukkah (this is not the Chabad custom).

Before eating in the sukkah, say the following blessing:

Bah-rookh ah-tah ah-doh-noi eh-loh-hay-noo meh-lekh hah-oh-lahm ah-sher ki-deh-shah-noo beh-mitz-voh-tahv veh-tzee-vah-noo lay-shayv bah-soo-kah.

Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.

During the first two days of the holiday, this blessing is often said as part of Kiddush.

(Read more here: The Sukkah)

Taking the Four Kinds

Rabbi Danny Cohen of Chabad of Hebron and his son Shneor offer the lulav and etrog to a soldier during Sukkot. (Photo: Israel Bardugo)
Rabbi Danny Cohen of Chabad of Hebron and his son Shneor offer the lulav and etrog to a soldier during Sukkot. (Photo: Israel Bardugo)

Another Sukkot observance is the taking of the Four Kinds: an etrog (citron), a lulav (palm frond), three hadassim (myrtle twigs) and two aravot (willow twigs). Before the holiday, the hadassim and aravot are bound to the lulav.

(Read more here: Four Kinds Owner’s Manual)

On each day of the festival (except Shabbat), hold the lulav in your right hand and say:

Bah-rookh ah-tah ah-doh-noi eh-loh-hay-noo meh-lekh hah-oh-lahm ah-sher ki-deh-shah-noo beh-mitz-voh-tahv veh-tzee-vah-noo ahl neh-tee-laht loo-lahv.

Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us regarding taking the lulav.

Then pick up the etrog in your left hand.

On the first day of Sukkot (or the first time on Sukkot you get to do this), add this blessing:

Bah-rookh ah-tah ah-doh-noi eh-loh-hay-noo meh-lekh hah-oh-lahm sheh-heh-kheh-yah-noo veh-kee-mah-noo ve-hig-ee-yah-noo liz-mahn hah-zeh.

Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.

Bring the lulav and etrog together in your hands and wave them gently in all six directions: right, left, forward, up, down and backward.

The sages of the Midrash tell us that the Four Kinds represent the various personalities that comprise the community of Israel, whose intrinsic unity we emphasize on Sukkot.

(Read more here: The Four Kinds)

Candles

Shabbat and holidays are ushered in with candle lighting. - Photo courtesy Mendel Mayteles/Merkos 302
Shabbat and holidays are ushered in with candle lighting.
Photo courtesy Mendel Mayteles/Merkos 302

The first two days (one day in Israel) are classified as yom tov. Like Shabbat, no work is done, with the notable exception that certain types of food prep and carrying in the public domain are permitted.

On these days, the night meals are preceded by holiday candle-lighting in the Sukkah. Before lighting the candles (on the second night, this is done from a pre-existing flame), say:

Bah-rookh ah-tah ah-doh-noi eh-loh-hay-noo meh-lekh hah-oh-lahm ah-sher ki-deh-shah-noo beh-mitz-voh-tahv veh-tzee-vah-noo leh-hahd-lik nayr shehl (shah-baht veh-shehl) yohm tohv.

Bah-rookh ah-tah ah-doh-noi eh-loh-hay-noo meh-lekh hah-oh-lahm sheh-heh-kheh-yah-noo veh-kee-mah-noo ve-hig-ee-yah-noo liz-mahn hah-zeh.

Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to kindle the light of (Shabbat and of ) the Festival Day.

Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.

If it is rainy or windy in the sukkah, and you cannot protect the candles from the elements, of if they pose a fire hazard in the sukkah, they may be lit indoors.

(Read more here: Holiday Candle-Lighting Procedure)

Festive Meals

The festive meals we eat in the sukkah are preceded by Kiddush over wine, and we then begin the meal over two whole loaves of challah, which are sliced, dipped in honey and distributed to all those present. Before we eat we say the special sukkah blessing, and the Grace After Meals includes special holiday insertions.

Like all holiday meals, it is appropriate to pepper the conversation with words of Torah and inspiration, as well as Jewish songs.

(Read more here: What to Expect at Sukkot Meals)

Hoshanot and Hoshanah Rabbah

Jews circling the bimah on Sukkot. Credit: Alex Levin
Jews circling the bimah on Sukkot. Credit: Alex Levin

Every day of Sukkot, we say Hallel, the psalms of praise from Psalms (113-118) as part of the morning prayer service. Every day besides Shabbat, we do so clutching the Four Kinds, waving them in all directions at certain key points in the service outlined in the siddur (prayerbook).

Afterward, we circle the bimah (the podium on which the Torah is read) holding the Four Kinds, reciting alphabetically arranged prayers for Divine assistance known as Hoshanot.

The seventh day of the holiday is known as Hoshanah Rabbah. This is the day when our fates for the coming year—which were signed on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur—are finalized. On this day, we circle the bimah seven times. We also say a short prayer and strike the ground five times with bundles of five willows (also known as Hoshanot)

(Read more here: Hoshanot: Winding and Willows)

Water and Joy

On Sukkot, G‑d determines how much rain will fall that winter (the rainy season in Israel). Thus while every sacrifice in the Temple included wine libations poured over the altar, on Sukkot, water was also poured over the altar in a special ceremony. This ritual engendered such joy that it was celebrated with music, dancing and singing all night long. This celebration was called was “Simchat Beit Hasho’evah.”

Even today, when there is no Temple, it is customary to hold nightly celebrations that include singing and dancing (and even live music during the intermediate days of the holiday).

(Read more here: The Joyous Water-Drawing Ceremony)

Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah: Even More Joy

The Torah tells us that after the seven days of Sukkot, we should celebrate an eighth day. In the diaspora, this eighth day is doubled, making two days of yom tov, when candles are lit and no work is done. On the final day, it is customary to conclude and then immediately begin the annual cycle of Torah reading, making this day Simchat Torah (“Torah Celebration”).

Although the eighth day follows Sukkot, it is actually an independent holiday in many respects (we no longer take the Four Kinds or dwell in the sukkah). Diaspora Jews eat in the sukkah, but without saying the accompanying blessing (there are some who eat just some of their meals in the sukkah on the eighth day).

The highlight of this holiday is the boisterous singing and dancing in the synagogue, as the Torah scrolls are paraded in circles around the bimah.

(Read more here: What to Expect at Simchat Torah)

Final Note

By the time Simchat Torah is over, we have experienced a spiritual roller coaster, from the solemn introspection of the High Holidays to the giddy joy of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. Now it is time to convert the roller coaster into a locomotive, making sure that the inspiration of the holiday season propels us to greater growth, learning and devotion in the year ahead.

The Sukkot 2023 Calendar

Tuesday-Friday Sept. 26-29—Tishrei 11–14

As soon as the solemn day of Yom Kippur is behind us, we focus on the traditions of the upcoming holiday of Sukkot. These four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot are characterized by frenetic activity—purchasing of the Four Kinds, erecting the sukkah hut, inviting guests for the forthcoming holiday, shopping for and preparing all the meals, and purchasing new clothing in honor of the holiday.

Click here for a purchaser’s guide for the Four Kinds.

Click here for a sukkah building guide.

Click here for traditional holiday recipes. 

Friday September 29—Tishrei 14
The Day Before Sukkot

It is customary to bind together the Four Kinds—the lulav, hadassim and aravot—today, while in the sukkah. Click here to learn how.

On the day before Sukkot it is traditional to give extra charity, for true joy is sharing with others.

Women and girls light Shabbat/holiday candles—preferably in the sukkah—in order to usher in the holiday. Click here for the text of the blessings, and here for local candle-lighting times. Click here for a summary of the laws of Yom Tov. Click here for a digest of the laws of dwelling in the sukkah.

After evening prayers, we enjoy a holiday meal. Even if it is pouring rain, on this night it is a mitzvah to at least make kiddush and eat an ounce of challah in the sukkah. We dip the challah in honey.

The group of supernal guests—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David—who grace our sukkahs throughout the holiday (known as ushpizin) are tonight and tomorrow led by our Patriarch Abraham. The chassidic entourage of ushpizin—consisting of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezeritch, the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash, the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz—is led by the Baal Shem Tov.

Tonight begins the Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah celebrations. It is customary to dance and sing in commemoration of the water-drawing festivals held nightly in the Holy Temple throughout the holiday of Sukkot. Click here for more on Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah.

Shabbat September 30—Tishrei 15
1st day of Sukkot

We do not shake the Four Kinds as it is Shabbat.

Morning service. Full Hallel is recited.
Two Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark.
Torah reading: Leviticus 22:26–23:44 and Numbers 29:12–16.
Haftorah: Zechariah 14:1–21.

The priests bless the congregation with the priestly blessing during the Musaf prayer.

Festive lunch meal in the sukkah. We dip the challah in honey.

After dark, women and girls light candles—preferably in the sukkah—for the second day of Sukkot, using an existing flame. Click here for the text of the blessings, and here for local candle-lighting times.

After evening prayers, a festive holiday meal in the sukkah. We dip the challah in honey.

The group of supernal guests—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David—who grace our sukkahs throughout the holiday (known as ushpizin) are tonight and tomorrow led by our Patriarch Isaac. The chassidic entourage of ushpizin—consisting of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezeritch, the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash, the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz—is led by the Maggid of Mezeritch.

Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah celebrations continue. It is customary to dance and sing in commemoration of the water-drawing festivals held nightly in the Holy Temple throughout the holiday of Sukkot. Click here for more on Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah.

Sunday October 1—Tishrei 16
2nd Day of Sukkot

We shake the Four Kinds. Click here for a how-to guide.

Morning service. Full Hallel is recited, followed by the Hoshanot (circling of the synagogue’s reading table with the Four Kinds, while reciting special prayers petitioning G‑d for ample livelihood in the coming year).
Two Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark.
Torah reading: Leviticus 22:26–23:44 and Numbers 29:12–16.
Haftorah: I Kings 8:2–21.

The priests bless the congregation with the priestly blessing during the Musaf prayer.

Festive lunch meal in the sukkah. We dip the challah in honey.

Afternoon prayers. Evening prayers. After nightfall, perform the Havdalah ceremony in the Sukkah, while omitting the blessings on the spices and fire.

The group of supernal guests—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David—who grace our sukkahs throughout the holiday (known as ushpizin) are tonight and tomorrow led by our Patriarch Jacob. The chassidic entourage of ushpizin—consisting of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezeritch, the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash, the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz—is led by the the Alter Rebbe.

Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah celebrations continue. It is customary to dance and sing in commemoration of the water-drawing festivals held nightly in the Holy Temple throughout the holiday of Sukkot. And now that the holiday has concluded, the festivities are often accompanied by live music. Click here for more on Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah.

Celebrate Sukkot’s Chol Hamoed (“intermediate days”). Between now and Shemini Atzeret, we may resume much (not all) of our regular, workday activities (not on Shabbat), but, of course, we continue to eat in the sukkah. It is customary to drink a glass of wine each day, in celebration of the festival. Click here for a digest of the laws of Chol Hamoed.

Monday October 2—Tishrei 17
3rd day of Sukkot
1st day of Chol Hamoed

Morning service: with the addition of the Yaaleh Veyavo insert in the Amidah.

Morning service: In many communities, throughout the intermediate days of Sukkot, tefillin are not worn.

Full Hallel is recited, followed by the Hoshanot (circling of the synagogue’s reading table with the Four Kinds, while reciting special prayers petitioning G‑d for ample livelihood in the coming year). We say today’s section of Hoshanot.
One Torah scroll is taken out of the ark.
Torah reading: Numbers 29:17–25.

The Musaf amidah is recited. During all of the intermediate days, Yaaleh Veyavo is inserted during all prayers and in the Grace After Meals.

Afternoon prayers. Evening prayers.

The group of supernal guests—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David—who grace our sukkahs throughout the holiday (known as ushpizin) are tonight and tomorrow led by Moses. The chassidic entourage of ushpizin—consisting of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezeritch, the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash, the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz—is led by the Mitteler Rebbe.

Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah celebrations continue. It is customary to dance and sing in commemoration of the water-drawing festivals held nightly in the Holy Temple throughout the holiday of Sukkot.Click here for more on Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah. Click here for a Sukkot event in your location.

Tuesday October 3—Tishrei 18
4th day of Sukkot
2nd day of Chol Hamoed (intermediate day)

We shake the Four Kinds. Click here for a how-to guide.

Morning service: In many communities, throughout the intermediate days of Sukkot, tefillin are not worn.
Full Hallel is recited, followed by the Hoshanot (circling of the synagogue’s reading table with the Four Kinds, while reciting special prayers petitioning G‑d for ample livelihood in the coming year). We say today’s section of Hoshanot.
One Torah scroll is taken out of the ark.
Torah reading: Numbers 29:20–28.

The Musaf amidah is recited. During all of the intermediate days, Yaaleh Veyavo is inserted during all prayers and in the Grace After Meals.

Chol Hamoed (the “intermediate days”) are observed with limited work restriction. Click here for a digest of the laws of Chol Hamoed.

The group of supernal guests—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David—who grace our sukkahs throughout the holiday (known as ushpizin) are tonight and tomorrow led by Aaron the high priest. The chassidic entourage of ushpizin—consisting of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezeritch, the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash, the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz—is led by the Tzemach Tzedek.

Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah celebrations continue. It is customary to dance and sing in commemoration of the water-drawing festivals held nightly in the Holy Temple throughout the holiday of Sukkot. Click here for more on Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah. Click here for a Sukkot event in your location.

Wednesday October 4—Tishrei 19
5th day of Sukkot
3rd day of Chol Hamoed (intermediate day)
Torah reading: Numbers 29:23-28

Morning service: In many communities, throughout the intermediate days of Sukkot, tefillin are not worn.
Full Hallel is recited followed by the Hoshanot (circling of the synagogue’s reading table with the Four Kinds, while reciting special prayers petitioning G‑d for ample livelihood in the coming year).
Torah reading: Exodus 33:12–34:26

The Musaf amidah is recited. During all of the Intermediate Days, Yaaleh Veyavo is inserted during all prayers and in the Grace After Meals.

Evening prayers.

The group of supernal guests—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David—who grace our sukkahs throughout the holiday (known as ushpizin) are tonight and tomorrow led by Joseph. The chassidic entourage of ushpizin—consisting of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezeritch, the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash, the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz—is led by the Rebbe Maharash.

Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah celebrations continue. It is customary to dance and sing in commemoration of the water-drawing festivals held nightly in the Holy Temple throughout the holiday of Sukkot. Click here for more on Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah. Click here for a Sukkot event in your location.

Thursday October 5—Tishrei 20
6th day of Sukkot
4th day Chol Hamoed

Morning service.
Full Hallel is recited.
Two Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark.
Torah reading: Exodus 33:12–34:26 and Numbers 29:23–28.
Haftorah: Ezekiel 38:18-39:16

The Musaf amidah is recited. During all of the Intermediate Days, Yaaleh Veyavo is inserted during all prayers and in the Grace After Meals.

The group of supernal guests—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David — who grace our sukkahs throughout the holiday (known as ushpizin) are tonight and tomorrow led by King David. The chassidic entourage of ushpizin—consisting of the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezeritch, the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash, the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz—is led by the Rebbe Rashab.

Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah celebrations continue. It is customary to dance and sing in commemoration of the water-drawing festivals held nightly in the Holy Temple throughout the holiday of Sukkot. Click here for more on Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah. Click here for a Sukkot event in your location.

Tonight and tomorrow is Hoshana Rabbah. It is customary in many communities to remain awake all night. It is traditional to recite the Book of Deuteronomy before midnight, and the Book of Psalms after midnight.

Friday October 6—Tishrei 21
7th day of Sukkot
5th day of Chol Hamoed (intermediate day)
Hoshana Rabbah

We shake the Four Kinds. Click here for a how-to guide.

Morning service: In many communities, throughout the intermediate days of Sukkot, tefillin are not worn.
Before Hallel, we remove the upper two bands from the lulav. Full Hallel is recited, followed by the Hoshanot (circling of the synagogue’s reading table with the Four Kinds, while reciting special prayers petitioning G‑d for ample livelihood in the coming year). During today’s Hoshanot we circle the reading table seven times, followed by several pages of special prayers, wherein we ask G‑d to bless us with abundant rain. At the conclusion of the Hoshanot we take a bundle of five willows, and with it we strike the ground five times.
One Torah scroll is taken out of the ark.
Torah reading: Numbers 29:26–34.

The Musaf amidah is recited. During all of the intermediate days, Yaaleh Veyavo is inserted during all prayers and in the Grace After Meals.

Chol Hamoed (the “intermediate days”) are observed with limited work restrictions. Click here for a digest of the laws of Chol Hamoed.

Many have the custom to eat kreplach—ground beef- or chicken-filled dough, folded into triangles—on this day. Click here for a recipe. These are usually eaten during the festive lunch meal, during which one also washes over challah or bread.

Click here for more about Hoshana Rabbah.

Tonight is Shemini Atzeret.

18 minutes before sunset, women and girls light candles — preferably in the sukkah — for Shabbat and the holiday. Click here for the text of the blessing, and here for local candle lighting times.

Women and girls light holiday candles—preferably in the sukkah—in order to usher in the holiday. Click here for the text of the blessings, and here for local candle-lighting times.

Please refer to our Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah Calendar for further instructions.


Useful Sukkot Links:

Sukkot Mega-Site

Global Sukkot Events Locator

Holiday Study & Insights

Sukkot Stories

Sukkot Shopping

Sukkot Kids' Zone

Sukkot Audio Classes and Videos