What is a Sukkah?

A Sukkah is a temporary booth or hut that is used during the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot.  The Sukkah is covered with vegetation.

Why build a Sukkah?

For forty years the Jewish people wandered in the desert after G-d redeemed them from Egypt and before they entered the land of Israel. During this period of wandering, they were protected from the elements through miraculous clouds that surrounded them. The Sukkah is our way of symbolically remembering this miracle that showed G-d’s kindness towards His people. It also signifies our trust in G-d as we choose to “live” in this temporary hut for seven days, instead of in the comfort of our homes.

Where to build a Sukkah?

The Sukkah is built outdoors, ideally close to one’s house. The Sukkah needs to be built under the open sky and it is therefore important that there is nothing that comes between the Sukkah roof and the sky, including trees, canopies or roofs.

What material should the Sukkah be made from?

  • The walls can be made from any material strong enough to stand up to wind. A pre-existing wall can be used as one or more of the Sukkah walls. Actually, an existing, roofless structure can also be used as a Sukkah as long as one covers it with vegetation.
  • The roof covering must be raw, unfinished vegetation. Commonly used vegetation are bamboo, evergreen branches, reeds and unfinished lumber.
  • If you want there to be a lighting system in the Sukkah, be sure to purchase a rain-proof cover for light-bulbs.
  • Regarding furniture for inside the Sukkah, keep in mind that all of one’s meals will be eaten in the Sukkah throughout the festival. You may also want to make sure you have extra furniture on-hand as it is considered special to invite guests into your Sukkah.
  • Many have the custom to decorate their Sukkah with posters that are holiday-themed, paper chains, and other hanging decorations. This in order to beautify the commandment. This is based on a view in Judaism that when fulfilling G-d’s commandments, one should do so in the best possible way.

What are the required dimensions of the Sukkah according to Jewish Law?

  • There must be at least two full walls and a minimum of a 3.2-inch-wide third wall for a Sukkah to be considered Kosher. The walls must be at the very least 32 inches high and less than 30 feet. The Sukkah can’t be smaller, lengthwise and breadth-wise, than 22.4 inches by 22.4 inches. There is no limit to how large the Sukkah can be, lengthwise and widthwise.
  • For further requirements regarding the vegetation and other details, see the source of this article at http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/420823/jewish/How-to-Build-a-Sukkah.htm