Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish harvest festival—a time of giving thanks for the gifts of nature. Falling just after the Jewish New Year and a period of reflection, Sukkot is also a time for building and taking concrete action as we begin the new year.
The holiday is often associated with the custom of building a temporary shelter called a sukkah (meaning “booth” or “hut” in Hebrew). Most historians believe this tradition began with farmers in ancient Israel who worked and slept in the fields during the harvest. These days, our relationship with shelter feels especially relevant. With many of us spending more time at home to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we are often very close to our places of shelter—perhaps more than some of us would like! At the same time, we understand the privilege of shelter is immense. In LA County alone, tens of thousands of people are homeless or living on the edge of homelessness.
With this in mind, and in the spirit of Sukkot, we invite you to ask yourself the following questions: What does shelter or home mean in my life right now? Who and what makes me feel safe, loved, and part of a community? And what can I do to make a difference for someone who may be struggling? Reflect on these questions as you make a unique mobile to hang in your home. Then, put your thoughts into action by getting involved with our friends at LA Family Housing (LAFH), a non-profit organization that works tirelessly to end homelessness in Greater Los Angeles. You can support LAFH remotely or in-person by participating in donation drives, writing care notes, or joining the Youth Action Council. Visit the LAFH volunteer platform to learn more.
- Two sturdy sticks (wooden or any material you have at home)
- Leaves or other natural materials
- Paper bags, construction paper, or cardstock
- Pencil, pens, or paint and paintbrushes
- Colorful string, ribbon, or twine
- Hole puncher
- Optional: Family photos or other decorative materials
- Take a walk in your neighborhood and collect two sturdy sticks and a few decorative leaves.
- Make paper leaves by drawing leaf shapes on paper and cutting them out. In our example, we decided to include etrog (yellow citrus). Etrog is one of the four plants mentioned in the Torah as being relevant to the Sukkot holiday, along with lulav (date palm), hadass (myrtle tree), and aravah (willow tree).
Write or draw your responses to the following questions on the paper leaves.
What does shelter or home mean in my life right now?
Who and what makes me feel safe, loved, and part of a community? Maybe your parents, your siblings, your pet, or a close friend. How do you comfort and inspire one another?
What can I do to make a difference for someone who may be struggling?
- Use paint and/or markers to decorate the paper leaves and let them dry.
- Bind the middle of the two wooden sticks together with string.
- Use a hole puncher, pencil, or scissors to create a hole in your paper leaves, family photos, and other decorative materials. Pass string through each decoration. Tie the ends of the string off, one to the wooden stick and one gently around the hole of your decoration.