Focus Questions

What does this object make you think of?  Does it remind you of something you have seen before?

Which part of the object do you notice most?  Why did you notice that part?

How do you think this object was used?

Have you noticed...The doors on the Sukkah. What do you think might be inside? Click to reveal answer

Inside the sukkah there is table set with food, wine, and candles to celebrate the festival of Sukkot.

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Model Sukkah

Model Sukkah

A silver model of a Sukkah with hinged doors and removable roof.

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The Object

Object name: Model Sukkah
Date: c.1900-1939
Catalogue number: C 1999.2.70
Material(s): Silver, silver gilt
Size: 12.5 x 8.5 x 11 cm
On display in the Jewish Museum? Yes

  • A Sukkah is a temporary outdoor booth or hut where families eat their meals during the festival of Sukkot. The sukkah symbolises the temporary shelters that the Jewish people lived in during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. 

  • A sukkah must have at least three walls. There should be a temporary roof loosely covered with branches so that the stars are visible through the gaps. Once it is built, the sukkah is usually decorated with vegetation known in Hebrew as 'sechach.' This could include hanging fruit and vegetables, branches and leaves, and garlands and flowers. 

  • It is customary to eat some or all of your meals in the sukkah during Sukkot. It is considered a mitzvah (good deed) to invite guests to share a meal in your sukkah. 

  • Look closely to see the Hebrew inscription above the doors. The inscription says, ‘Sit in the Sukkah for seven days.’ 

Model Sukkah with the doors open

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The Story

Sukkot

The festival of Sukkot occurs from the 15th-22nd of Tishrei, which is falls usually around September or October. It is the Jewish harvest festival and reminds Jewish people of the Israelites’ wandering in the desert for 40 years after receiving the Ten Commandments. While the Jewish people were wandering through the desert, a ‘cloud of glory’ surrounded and hovered over them leading the way and protecting them as they crossed the wilderness. During this time the Jewish people lived in temporary shelters or booths made from branches. Sukkot is the Hebrew word for ‘booths.’ Today Jewish people all over the world build sukkahs outside their homes to remember how God protected them and cared for them both in the wilderness and today.

There are three main traditions associated with Sukkot: building a sukkah, eating in the sukkah, and waving the Lulav (loo-lav) and the Etrog (eh-trog). The Etrog is a large citrus fruit that looks similar to a lemon. The Lulav is made up of a palm leaf held between two branches of willow and three branches of myrtle. The Lulav and Etrog make up the ‘Four Species’ (four kinds of plants) used during Sukkot. They are held together and shaken every day as part of the celebration. The Lulav and the Etrog are shaken in six directions: north, south, east, west, up and down. This is to remind Jewish people that God is all around us and can be found in all directions, not just in one particular place.

The Lulav and Etrog symbolise different parts of the body and a person’s relationship with the Torah and performing mitzvot (good deeds).  The willow branches (‘Aravot’) symbolise the lips. Willow has neither taste nor fragrance and symbolises a person who does not learn Torah or perform mitzvot. The myrtle branches (‘Hadassim’) symbolise the eyes. Myrtle has fragrance but no taste and symbolises a person who performs mitzvot but does not learn Torah. The palm leaf (‘Lulav’) symbolises the spine. Palm leaf has taste but no fragrance and symbolises a person who learns Torah but does not perform mitzvot. The citrus (‘Etrog’) symbolises the heart. The citrus has taste and fragrance and symbolises a person who both learns Torah and performs mitzvot.

On the last day of sukkot a prayer is said asking God to send rain for next year’s harvest. Sukkot ends with the festival of Simchat Torah. This joyous festival celebrates finishing the yearly cycle of reading the Torah and starting all over again. 

Digital Takeaway

Download this PDF for an activity on Sukkot