The history of Sukkot: What you need to know.

The four species of Sukkot: Lulav, hadass, aravah and etrog.

Right after the Jewish community rings in the new year of Rosh Hashanah, soon comes Yom Kippur, and then the Jewish calendar quickly turns to the jubilant holiday of Sukkot.

During Yom Kippur Jews reflect and repent, and is generally a solemn day. However, once Sukkot comes around it is filled with celebration, happiness and busy hands of Jews everywhere building their sukkah. Sukkot has two overarching themes; history and agriculture.  Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty year period during which the children of Israel wandered through the desert building temporary shelters, this why we build sukkahs to represent these shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is known as a harvest festival, this is why it is commonly referred to as the “Harvest Festival.” The sukkah itself represents the huts that farmers would live in during the hectic, last ditch effort to harvest before the season’s harsh winter conditions began. Also, Sukkot is a major holiday in the Jewish calendar commemorating the shelters built by Israelites in the wilderness years ago.  

One of the fun parts of Sukkot is being able to build your own sukkah, whether it’s at home with family or with friends at CSU Hillel, the steps remain the same. The sukkah usually has 2.5 to 3.5 walls and needs to be made with sturdy material (we don’t want it blowing away!) and have a “see through” roof as well. Once constructed many people will hang fruits and vegetables on the outside of their sukkahs as decoration. While building a sukkah can be reminiscent of building a fort, it does not have to be that extravagant, focusing on the themes of the Sukkot are just as important as your sukkahs aesthetic.  

Students from CSU Hillel sit and talk in their recently built Sukkah.


Students from CSU Hillel share a smile in their sukkah celebrating Sukkot.

The themes of Sukkot are centered on the idea of having a plentiful harvest during a time when food was dire. Thinking back to our ancestors in the desert, they had minuscule amounts of resources and food, all while living in temporary shelters. This simple idea of being able to eat  and survive is a humble reminder of what life is about and the simplicity it can be dwindled down when thinking about just the necessities to live. We can look our own lives today and be thankful for the food and harvests we enjoy and celebrate. We can focus on the important matters in life like community and heritage instead of our laptop or iPhone game. We can relish in the beauty and joyous nature of Sukkot because it is a celebration.

This spirit is similar to that of “Abrahamic Hospitality” or “haschnasat orchim.” This spirit of hospitality is to help and give those traveling and to the indigent in our society, it is said that this form of hospitality is greater than welcoming in the divine presence. In the end, it is about assisting others in need to continue making our world and community the best we can. CSU Hillel prides itself on being a sustainable and environmentally friendly Hillel. There is a compost system on site to reuse leftover food from Shabbats or other Hillel events. With all CSU Hillel events they are warm and welcoming, making the house a celebration of Judaism for every student that comes to the Hillel house. Additionally, CSU Hillel has its own garden which aligns directly to the harvest celebration of Sukkot. Everyone can relate to when their fresh tomatoes or squashes are ripe and ready for picking!

During the week of Sukkot CSU Hillel is having several events for students and the community to participate in!

CSU Hillel’s event list for “Sukkapalooza”

All this week is “Sukkapolooza.” Beginning Tuesday October 3rd from 2-4 p.m. is “Seedlings in the Sukkah” in which you can plant your own seeds with Hillel for next years harvest! Friday October 6th from 6:30-9:30 p.m. is ‘Shabbat under the stars,’ which will be a beautiful shabbat dinner outside under the night sky. Monday October 9th from 4:30-6:30 p.m. will be ‘Bike workshop and BBQ,’ where you can learn to fix your own or someone else’s bike and enjoy some BBQ. Lastly, Tuesday October 10th from 6-8 p.m. will be ‘Shakshuka Night’ in which you can come for an Israeli cooking workshop! All events are at the CSU Hillel house, located at 720 West Laurel Street.


CSU Hillel serves as an important bridge from the Jewish kid world to the Jewish adult world. We empower students to become leaders, and provide a warm and welcoming home-away-from-home for every student. Additionally, at CSU Hillel we take pride in cultivating a strong community with our weekly shabbats, sustainability projects and community mitzvah’s around Fort Collins, as well as, helping our students learn about Judaism and Israel in whatever capacity most comfortable to them. To learn more about CSU Hillel visit our website and make sure to follow us on social media on Facebook at CSU Hillel and Twitter @CSUHillel.