8 Things To Do On Sukkot In Israel
If you haven’t experienced the holidays in Israel, you haven’t really experienced Israel.
And by holidays, let’s set one thing straight- we don’t mean The Most Wonderful Time of Year (a song ironically composed by Jews) or any other time in December… we’re talking about the Jewish High Holiday season, culminating with the holiday of Sukkot in early October. For Jews, fall– not winter!-- is the “hap-happiest season of all”.
Tourists flock from all over the world during this eight-day festival, just to see the streets of Jerusalem in action: the singing, the dancing, the street performers, the people just frolicking along (it is a nationwide work holiday, after all).
So what is it all about? And how is this holiday celebrated?
On this Sukkot, people abandon their regular abodes for small wooden huts, called Sukkot in Hebrew (giving the holiday its name).
They decorate the Sukkot with tinsel streamers, string lights, and beautiful ornaments (kind of like the Jewish version of a Christmas tree).
They make it their home for eight days, eating all meals and just chilling out in their Sukkot. In Israel, many even camp out for the night!
Since the whole country is on vacation, there are endless attractions and exhibits, fairs, parades, shows and thrill seeking opportunities (think rappelling down ancient ramparts of the Old City).
Whether religious or not, people can also participate in communal rituals of the holiday with hundreds of thousands in attendance.
Spending a whole semester abroad gives you the opportunity to live somewhere new, not just cross it off your bucket list. You get a close-up view of the most exciting local festivities, without the enormous cost of Airbnbs, hotels, and airline tickets during the holiday season!
Here’s a list of the things you won’t want to miss if you’re lucky enough to be in Israel for Sukkot:
In the days leading up to Sukkot, the entire religious neighborhood of Geulah transforms into a busy outdoor flea market selling four unusual fruits, called the Arba Minim (Four Species) that are an integral part of the holiday service.
On this tour, you can get a peek into the ultra-orthodox lifestyle, learn how the holiday is celebrated, and taste some of the world's ultimate Jewish comfort food that will bring you back to your Bubby's kitchen...Mmmm!
Are you a thrill seeker? This incredible experience is only available on Sukkot! Walk along the ancient ramparts of the Old City and rappel down the walls- if you can handle it! This activity is not for the faint of heart.
3. Plugat Hakotel- live action film and experience (Western Wall Squad).
The Western Wall, or the Kotel, in Hebrew, has thousands of years of Jewish history and significance, learn how the Jews were finally allowed to pray there after years of being denied entry!
This is a famous ceremony that takes place every year on Sukkot, with thousands of people from all over the country uniting in attendance. It is based on an ancient practice of the Priestly Blessing in the temple over 3000 years ago.
See, smell, and taste the holidays with this fantastic tour of Mahane Yehuda, the largest Middle Eastern marketplace in Israel. During the day, get a taste of the mouth-watering local cuisine. At night, the place kicks up a few notches with exotic bars and exciting nightlife!
Have you been keeping up with the sensational Israeli drama Fauda, and the undercover IDF agents that have taken Netflix by storm? Here you can experience what that is really like, ie going undercover and foiling terrorist operations. Learn army techniques, krav maga, and participate in a real undercover simulation!
The Jerusalem March is an exciting cultural event that you don’t want to miss. On Sukkot each year, people from all over the world travel to participate in the March to show their support for Israel, each representing their country. There is entertainment, food, and fun for all ages.
Do you have a drive for adventure? And breathtaking desert views? Take an ATV tour in the Judean Desert. You’ll thank us later.
As most would agree, when it comes to holidays, Jews do it better (sorry Mariah Carey) so don't miss out on these incredible experiences!