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This is the timeline for Sukkot in the Gregorian year 2020.

The first day of Sukkot is kept like the Sabbath. Therefore, servile work is not done this day. The rest of the days during the Sukkot period are days when work is permitted.

We celebrate Sukkot by dwelling or at least eating in a foliage-covered booth (known as a sukkah). For seven days and nights, we eat all our meals in the sukkah and otherwise regard it as our home.

The goal is to spend as much time as possible in the sukkah, at the very minimum eating all meals in the sukkah, particularly the festive meals on the first two nights of the holiday, when we must eat at least an olive-sized piece of bread or mezonot (grain-based food) in the sukkah.

What is Sukkot? Sukkot is Sephardic Hebrew for Festival of Booths (Or “Feast of Tabernacles). We live in a Sukkah (Booth or Hut) for 9 days. This is the Feast of Tabernacles mentioned in the Scriptures. The Torah refers to it by two names: Chag HaAsif (“the Festival of Ingathering,” or “Harvest Festival”) and Chag HaSukkot (“Festival of Booths”), each expressing a reason for the holiday.

Sukkot is observed on the 21st day of the seventh month of the Biblical or Hebrew Calendar. It is only a floating holy day in respect to the Gregorian Calendar. In 2020 it began sunset of Friday, October 2, 2020 and ended the nightfall of Friday, October 9, 2020. No work is permitted on October 3 – 4. Work is permitted on October 5 – 9 with certain restrictions..

All of the 7 annual Mo’edim are referred to as “occasions for joy” (moadim lesimcha), but the Torah stresses the centrality of joy to the festival of Sukkot more than any other festival. Indeed, only the festival of Sukkot that is defined in our prayers of the day as zeman simchateinu, “The Time of Our Joy.” There is a special joy associated with Sukkot, which reaches its height in the nightly “water drawing” celebrations held during the festival.

It is one of the 7 annual Mo’edim (Hebrew for “Appointed times”). It is a time that will come when Messiah returns to Tabernacle with his people. It comes 5 days after Yom Kipur. Yom Kippur (Hebrew) also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Hebrews traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in services.

These flimsy sukkahs represent the huts in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after escaping as slaves in Mitsrayim (Egypt). The festival of Sukkot is one of the three great pilgrimage festivals (chaggim or regalim) of the Hebrew year. Sukkot is a harvest festival similar to Thanksgiving.

In 2020 the first two days at sunset on October 2 until sunset on October 4 (one day in Israel) are yom tov, when work is forbidden, candles are lit in the evening, and festive meals are preceded by Kiddush and include challah (braided bread) dipped in honey. Kiddush is Hebrew for “sanctification,” which is a blessing recited over wine or grape juice to sanctify the Shabbat (Sabbath) and Hebrew holy days. Additionally, the word refers to a small repast held on Shabbat or festival mornings after the prayer services and before the meal.

The intermediate days, sunset on October 4 until sunset on October 9 are quasi holy days, known as Chol Hamoed (literal translation: “the secular [non-holy or work day] (part of) the occasion” or “application of the occasion”) (see below). On Sukkot, Chol HaMoed consists of the second through seventh days (third through seventh in the Diaspora. We dwell in the sukkah and take the Four Kinds every day of Sukkot (except for Shabbat, when we do not take the Four Kinds). Unlike the other festivals on the Hebrew calendar, it does not mark the anniversary of a particular milestone in our history. In seeking the essence of Sukkot, we must therefore look for the common denominator of the festival’s three primary mitzvot: the precept to “rejoice on your festival,” the taking of the Daled Minim, (the Four Kinds), and dwelling in the sukkah.

Chol HaMoed (Hebrew: חול המועד‎) is a Hebrew phrase meaning “weekdays of the festival” (literal translation: “the secular [non-holy] (part of) the occasion” or “application of the occasion”), refers to the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot. As the name implies, these days mix features of “chol” (weekday or secular) and “moed” (festival).

The final two days, sunset on October 10 until sunset on October 11 are a separate holy day (one day in Israel): Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah.

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