Suggestions from our congregation for Sukkot: Two years ago we had a "Campaign" to build sukkot at home. We called it, "If you build it, we will come" The Rabbi, Family Educator and the Temple President visited three home sukkot, snacked in each one and took photos which were displayed in Temple. It was a good beginning. We should try again. Also, our Women's Study group, originally an outgrowth of Sisterhood's need for education, studied and ate a small meal in the sukkah. It was only a small group - 8, I think, last year. We studied about Sukkot, studied Ecclesiastes and all had a chance to wave the lulav and say the blessings. We are trying again this year with an emphasis on the fragility of the sukkah and our lives in light of the WTC, Pennsylvania, and Pentagon sorrows. It will be held on Sunday A.M. Everyone is welcome. Our congregational celebration was held erev Sukkot and very well attended. Kathy
Sukkot - I'll give you my Israeli perspective - Sukkot is a whole week and not just the holiday itself. The week is preceded by major community work together building the sukkah, pruning trees for the roof, making and hanging decorations, etc. On Lotan, we have a week of events of a variety of types that take place in our sukkah (which is of course very large so as to feed the whole kibbutz all our meals!) These events include -- t'filah, study (we're looking at Kohelet), rikudei am (folk dancing), n'tilat lulav (shaking and blessing the lulav) each morning before work, an evening of wine, cheese and art (We did art! That was quite successful - we usually only do crafts programming for our kids!), etc.
We even bring the hakafot of Erev Simhat Torah outside and into our newly emptied sukkah!
Kids have vacation from school for the whole week and many sleep at least one night together - a sleepover party in the sukkah (with madrichim (counselors) of course)!
Another Sukkot tradition we have is based on the tradition of ushpuzin and hachnasat orchim - bringing guests into the sukkah. Our variation - people who are new or who have moved house in the past year have an open house and invite everyone on one afternoon - we roam from house-to-house, get to deepen our acquaintance of the new people and eat lots of cakes, etc. This could work well, I think, in synagogue-based communities like yours - visiting each other?s sukkot at each other?s homes. It?s a mitzvah! And it can open up community practice to more than just prayer.
In our experience, not every event has High Holy Day service attendance, but if the events, services, study, etc. have quality content, then more people come each year.
During Sukkot, all appropriate temple activities/meetings were held in our outdoor sukkah. Arts and crafts from our religious school students were placed on the walls and roof. We built a separate indoor sukkah. Ours was on our large bimah, but anywhere in the main sanctuary would serve the purpose. Both ideas worked very well and will be repeated. David 1250 units
Sept 2006 Digest 144
the British Reform Movement's extraordinary Forms of Prayer for the Days of Awe (1985), p. 676, right after Havdalah on Yom Kippur: Barukh attah, Adonay Eloheynu, melekh ha-'olam, asher qiddeshanu be-mitsvotav ve-tsivvanu li-v'not sukkah. The prefatory rubric reads "It is a custom at the conclusion of the Day of Atonement to take the first steps in building a succah."
Sept 2007 Digest 172
The Reconstructionist Prayer Book--Kol Ha Neshamah: Shabbat Vhageim has a Sukkot Service you might find meaningful for this occasion. And the CCAR publication--On the Doorposts of Your House has a family celebration of Sukkot one of my personal favorites is Talking to God by Rabbi Naomi Levy--a book of stories and poems for all life cycle events that is quite beautiful.
Oct 2007 Digest 191
We had a synaplex Sukkot event this afternoon. Of 525 family units, we had 190 people, including fifty adults. The adults went to two homes where a sukkah was built. The rabbi at our sukkah discussed ushpazim. The adult schmooze and discussion lasted two hours. During that time, special events were held at the temple for the kids, divided into younger and older groups. After the adult program, the adults drove to the temple for a barbecue, followed by a Havdalah service. I believe it was quite successful both from an attendance and spiritual basis
Oct 2007 Digest 191
My new congregation has a Sukkot minhag in which I participated yesterday for the first time, and which others may wish to emulate
Following Shabbat services , a sizable number of the worshipers and others participated in what is called the Sukkah crawl. Soup and bread in one sukkah; then potluck lunch in another (participants were asked to bring vegetarian or dairy); and finally dessert in a third. We received a handbill giving us directions to the three homes and timetable for each stop--12:15 to 1:15, 1:30 to 2:245; 3:00 to 4:00. Not everybody did all stops, but my guess is that there were fifty participants altogether.
Great way to build community, help people fulfill the mitzvah of eating in a sukkah, and have a good time.