Five days after Yom Kippur is the festival of Sukkot. Sukkot is a joyous holiday and is refered to in Jewish prayer as Z'man Simchateniu (the Season of our rejoicing). This holiday is the only festival associated with an explicit commandment to rejoice. It is the last of three pilgrimage festivals, the others being Passover and Shavu'ot. Sukkot commemorates the 40 year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert and living in temporary shelters. Sukkot is also a harvest festival and time to give thanks for the bounty of the earth. The word Sukkot means "booths". For this holiday followers of Judaism may stay in a Sukkah or build a Sukkah for eating, entertaining, or even sleeping during the seven days that Sukkot lasts.
When I explained to the boys that Sukkot is a festival to celebrate and give thanks- my boys said "Again?!" There are a lot of religious festivals in September about celebrating the harvest and being thankful. They weren't complaining though- autumn foods and the weather starting to change is a nice combo and they are happy to help with the baking.
My boys are always up for building a fort so we built our own Sukkah, which was a much smaller version to what would actually be used, and made paper lanterns to decorate it. We were inspired by this craft here. When I saw these paper lanterns I knew we had to make them. I used to have a huge craft book when I was little and these lanterns were one of the crafts I would always make. I would make these with my siblings and we would hang them from a paper chain across the room. The boys and I made a few and attached them to the top of our Sukkah and had a snack.
To make them you will need construction paper, scissors, and tape.
Fold a piece of construction paper in half. At the folded end cut a slit until about an inch from the open end. Do this about an inch apart down the whole piece of folded paper. When finished unfold and take the ends and join them together so lantern forms a cylinder (the folded line will be at the middle of the lantern-my middle son said it was at the equator of the lantern). Attach the ends and add a "handle" We just cut a small strip of black construction paper to be our handle and attached it to the top of the lantern. Viola-paper lantern!
For our food we made pumpkin challah. Our family loves to eat challah so I was happy to have a chance to make it and also liked the twist of making it an autumnal version with the addition of pumpkin. I definitely did not knead the dough long enough (my 17 month old managed to crawl unto the table knock the flour down and went for my camera- all about 5 minutes before I needed to leave to pick up my 6 year old from the bus stop. Time management is obviously a skill I am still mastering) so our challah was a bit lumpy- and I'm thinking maybe somewhere I went wrong- perhaps too much yeast? I don't know something was off. It tasted a little better when we made it into french toast the next evening (I'm a big fan of breakfast for dinner). The recipe we followed can be found here. I won't give our step by step because I don't want you to end up with so-so challah. But not all was lost. The boys enjoyed making it and I am determined to try again hopefully with tastier results.