Sukkot programs are finally catching on in the Jewish community. The Passover programs industry saw massive growth over the past 20 years, except for the two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic. However, the Sukkot programs industry only recently started seeing growth. For many years, Jewish families would travel to Israel for Sukkot but there weren’t many programs. Israel was closed for Sukkot for the past two years because of COVID. Now Israel and the rest of the world is open for travel and people are looking for any excuse to get away. The Jewish holiday of Sukkot is a great time for a family vacation. The weather is great, the kids are off from school and any excuse not to build the sukkah.
What is the holiday of Sukkot?
The holiday of Sukkot (also known as Tabernacle) is one of the three Pilgrimage Festivals that takes place in the fall, usually September or October. The word Sukkot means “huts” as the holiday commemorates the temporary shelters the Jews lived in while wandering in the desert. For the seven days of Sukkot, Jews eat all their meals in the Sukkah. Jewish families build a sukkah at their home for the week and only eat at restaurants that have a sukkah. The sukkah walls can be made of different materials, such as wood, canvas, aluminum siding or sheets. There are rules for how high the walls should be. The sukkah is covered with s’chach, which includes bamboo, mats or palm fronds. It is customary to decorate the sukkah by hanging decorations and some people even put a rug in the sukkah. There is a custom to “live” in the sukkah for the week so in addition to eating all meals in the sukkah, some sleep in the sukkah as well.
Another mitzvah of Sukkot is to make a blessing on the four minim (four species), which include the lulav, etrog, hadassim and aravot. The first two days of the holiday in the Diaspora (and the first day of the holiday in Israel) are similar to the Sabbath where work is forbidden. The intermediate days are perfect for touring and activities. Immediately following the seven days of Sukkot is the holiday of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. This is celebrated as one day in Israel and two days in the Diaspora. This holiday is similar to the first day(s) of Sukkot where all work is forbidden. This is an eight-day holiday in Israel and a nine-day holiday in the Diaspora so definitely a great time to get away from all the cooking and cleaning associated with all the meals.
Where do people go for Sukkot programs?
Vacationing during the Jewish holidays is a great way to see different countries. The added advantage of Sukkot programs is visiting foreign countries without having to worry about finding kosher food. Another added benefit is not having to worry about finding a sukkah to eat in because the programs all provide a sukkah. Many programs also include day trips to tour the local areas.
As mentioned above, Israel has always been a very popular vacation destination for the holiday of Sukkot. In 2020, there weren’t any Sukkot programs because of COVID lockdowns but there were a number of programs for Sukkot 2021. There were programs at hotels in Greece, Cyprus and Morocco. A popular destination for Sukkot 2021 was Italy with a number of kosher hotels to choose from as well as a program with a local Chabad. Lake Garda and the Amalfi Coast are beautiful places to spend the holiday and each offer their own unique attractions.
There were several Sukkot programs to choose from in Cancun Mexico. There was also a program in Dubai, which is quickly becoming one of the most popular kosher vacation destinations. There was also a program in a kosher hotel conveniently located in the center of Prague.
All of the Sukkot programs were in great locations. Those looking for Sukkot programs were able to choose from beaches in different parts of the world. One only has to choose what type of vacation they are looking for, spending time on the beach, golf course and water sports or touring the local cultural and heritage site. No matter what type of vacation you choose, it’s a relief knowing that you don’t have to worry about any of the details. The Sukkot programs build the sukkah, cook all the meals (usually gourmet food prepared fresh each day) and provide endless activities. Many Sukkot programs have lectures, entertainment and kids programming in addition to all the on-site amenities of the hotel or resort spa.
The limited programs last year were quite successful. After the success of Passover programs in 2022, there will surely be even more programs for Sukkot 2022. A lot of families have already booked their tickets to Israel, which is open for Sukkot for the first time in two years. Many other families are searching for the best Sukkot vacation for their family.