Sukkot: The Festival of Booths

I like tend think of this as the “forgotten holiday.” Celebrating Sukkot is not very popular in some circles, BUT is is so much fun! Just reading the word “Sukkot” makes me happy! If anyone has ever been in a sukka they know what I am talking about. Yom Kippur has just passed and we have been forgiven by Hashem; we have triumphed! The time to celebrate is here and we celebrate big. Celebrating is even a commandment in this holiday. We build nothing less than a special hut, outside our home, to invite family and friends over to eat themselves silly on scrumptious food. These temporary dwellings are to commemorate the very sukkot that Hashem crafted for our ancestors in the desert. There were clouds of glory protecting us from all sides from the dangerous elements in the desert. Being in a sukka today not only reminds us of Hashem’s generosity during those hard times, but also brings us back out into nature and forces us to put all our trust in the Ruler of the world, prompting us to be grateful for the warmth of our sturdy and stable homes.

Here are two of my kids helping set-up our Sukka! They are so proud and excited!

The Persian Sukka and How We Shake the Lulav!

Many Persians are known for decorating their sukkot with beautiful Persian Rugs (making sure to roll them back home when rain starts to fall!) I have seen exquisite sofres (tablecloths) displayed on the walls of Persian sukkot. However, the most interesting and absolutely adorable decoration I have witnessed (besides children-made décor, of course) are cone-shaped cups hanging from the schach (ceiling of the sukka) filled with a delicious mixture of chickpea flour and sugar. It is customary to hang these treats for the kids to enjoy at the end of the holiday….as long as they have survived the squirrels! Below you can find the recipe and the way I use this beautiful tradition.

Here is the Sukka…half-way there.  This is great bonding time with the kids!

Have you ever seen a Persian shaking a lulav? In case you might not know, a lulav (palm tree branch) is bundled with willow and myrtle. When I didn’t know any better, I though it was some type of musical instrument! Along with the lulav, a beautiful and aromatic citron (etrog) is shaken as well. It is the most expensive citrus fruit one can buy. If you haven’t seen a Persian shaking the lulav, get ready for a surprise! They point their lulavim and turn their bodies toward the direction to which they shake them. In general, Sephardic women do not say a blessing when shaking the lulav.

Here is the Sukka! Finished and decorated! I love it because it is very “home-made” and it was the hard work of my family! My aunt Julie Simnegar makes the most beautiful Sukkot for grown-up taste.  Her Sukka is the most beautiful Sukka in all of LA with velvet draperies and hanging flower arrangements! I must post a pic soon! She is an extremely talented florist and the owner of the popular Bouvardia Flowers and Gifts (310) 470-9100

Sukkot Chick Pea and Sugar Treats

Sar’e Gandak

Here is a little sweet bundle for the Sukka!

These are little bundles of chick pea flour and powdered sugar that are hung in the Sukka at the beginning of the Hag and eaten when the Sukka is put away. My mother-in-law has beautiful childhood memories of reaching up to these bundles and eating the treasure inside! Doesn’t it sound great? Well, maybe that worked in Shiraz, but we live in a different climate in the US. Where we live, it rains every single Sukkot. Also, the squirrels would have a feast the second I hang the treats! So, I decided to hang them right before the Sukka is taken down. The kids have a blast looking for them between all the decorations! I like using white paper cone cups, which the kids decorate. This is a great way to reward the children for helping out while putting the Sukka away.  You can also buy the cones already made or make them yourself with any paper you have at home.  See this link for ideas and a good template. If your kids don’t like chickpea flour, you can fill these treat with colored sugar or any treat you’d like!

½ cup chick pea flour

½ cup powdered confectioner’s sugar

paper-cone cups or cone-shaped favor boxes

1. Combine chick pea flour and sugar and fill each cone cup with approximately 2 tablespoons of the mixture.

2. Wrap in foil, attach a string, and hang from the schach in the Sukka!

3. To serve, pluck cones from the schach, give one to each child (or help yourself to one!). Snip or tear off the pointy end of the cone and suck out the tasty powder.

Yield: 4-5 treats, depending on cone size.

Sukkot is a great time to spend with family and friends! In this pic my kids and their cousins are making “eatable” Sukkot out of crackers, pretzel sticks and sour sticks! The “glue” is marshmallow fluff!

Have a wonderful Sukkot everyone!


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