Some Sukkot-Oriented Activities / Peulot for School or Home.

  • Please see our other sections for background, material and vocabulary that you can use in the below (or to create other lessons and activities out of).
  • Many of these activities can be used at home as well as in school or a youth group.
  • Most of the below can be adjusted for older or younger, made simpler or harder, etc. Where there's a more likely age range, this is specified within the peula / activity instructions.
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Just For the WOW Of It

and to inspire you a little?

Show the video found on this homepage about the 2010 design contest in New York City called "Sukkah City". Check out their website (and also a few more related items in our Cool Links section, while you're at it).

Not all of us are high-concept designers with access to such materials and know-how. Yet this still shows how far one could go when building your own modest sukkah. In this vein, note the contest's "Sukkah of the Signs" in particular, which not only goes to humblest recycling but also some basic Sukkot themes which are as relevant today as ever.

What do you think? Start brainstorming what you have in your area, and then collecting and saving up recycled materials. And remember- there is nothing to stop you from having a sukkah on a boat, on wheels, on a small open porch off of an apartment building (they abound all over Israel), etc. You could do this individually, as a class project, or discuss adding recycled and creative features to the community or congregational sukkah.

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You're Using *What* In Your Sukkah?! - T-Shirts!

When it comes to the sukkah (and so many other things) we have used what is handy, unusual and/or colorful for years. Learn Hebrew Pod feels that respecting our earth and recycling are important aspects of respect for God's creations and tikun olam (fixing/improving our world). How even more appropriate to this truly Jewish version of "Earth Week"!

We sometimes go discard-hunting for interesting finds…the most amazing things end up on curbs for the overburdened trash-men. For example, one year we used an old metal bunk bed frame that someone threw out. Not only did it serve as one of the walls of our sukkah, it also added additional cozy seating for hanging out- we just threw some old pillows and bedding on- covered by something nicer and festive. It was so useful that it then went into the garden for many years, with seating below and potted plants and vines on top.

Sukkah decorations made of T-shirtsSukkah decorations made of... T-shirts

Our sukkah, like many, starts with a closet hunt for nice tapestries, Indian throw covers, extra-nice tablecloths, spare shower curtains or old drapes etc. for creating lovely walls on a simple frame or some such support.

But then we get to the odd family tradition about supporting the schach (roof greenery). For instead of wood planks, or bamboo etc., we use a web of colorful giant loops cut from old T-shirts and the like. (Yes, if you have followed our activities through other holiday packets, we do have a thing for what else to do with "that junk", and especially "dear departed" T-shirts).

In keeping with the dictates that the sukkah roof only be made of materials that formerly grew from the ground and that have no other use at this point, we'd only use old discarded clothing from natural materials -like cotton. If uncertain, clip a tiny bit and burn it- if this only creates ashy stuff, it's natural. If it makes a hard melted nub instead, then it isn't.

We save these up, the more colorful the better. The parts we can't cut into bands/loops or use as ties go into the home rag pile. Kids LOVE this project. (And the "Whoa!-Factor" on anyone that sees such a sukkah is a given). It is also especially good for inclusive participation, even by the young (just be careful they don't put loops on necks), those with special needs, or the plain less-handy or not-so-art-inclined. Practically everyone can find a doable role in this part of sukkah "building" (even if it's simply being given the job "Official Color Chooser" for each successive link when we make the web, or the next kid then passing the loops to the person on the ladder, or pre-preparing some lengths, etc).

Tricot works best due to its nice flexible stretch and tendency to roll up when cut and pulled. Not only T-shirts, but about-to-throw-out old and stained or ripped dresses, skirts, loose old shorts and pants are all fair game. (Oh, and as for long sleeves or a long sock? Cut off and save a few skinny ones. You put one [or overlap a few] on a bottle and have an instant cool, colorful vase.)

Cut these items up into giant "rubber bands" - about 3-4"/8-10 cm. wide (e.g. wider if the fabric is thinner and more worn). Yes, sleeves too. Pre-stretch each loop somewhat at this point either between both hands, or using your hand and a foot for the longer ones.

a shop with pillows and tapestriesLook for original materials and props to decorate.
The market in Jerusalem

Here in Israel, a metal frame sukkah is very common -kind of like a quite simple, giant Erector Set. So these instructions are for looping around a frame bar. (At a "start point", loop twice around frame, then put one end of the loop through its other end and pull tight). If you are using another approach, you will have to find a safe and sturdy way to anchor loops around the top of your sukkah. For example, with solid wood sides- to attach (to loop around something, not through, to avoid tearing) you might use a screw, large nail, larger screw-in hooks, or drill some 1/2 inch holes at 1-2 ft. intervals. You can then thread a wad of your fabric loop through the hole with a stick or pen, etc. Preferably use smaller loops and/or straight fabric "ties" for your frame's ending 'anchor' points -like those made from either small kid tops or large (wide) sleeves.

Basically you will simply keep looping bands through bands, creating an interwoven web (no pattern required :)- switching colors all the time, or however you prefer. Keep it on the taut side. When you get to another side, just run your growing chain around twice – real tight - and then keep on going in another direction to another side, adding more loops as you go (it keeps things tighter and easier in some ways), or preparing strands a few loops long at a shot before going up. Weave each crossing strand through previous strands that you started from different points. The more interconnections you create along the way, the better! Finally, simply take some more simple ties to finish off at an end and to strengthen some connection points as needed. You can also add a few short loops to hang downwards for connecting decorations to. Sleeve loop chains- especially the smallest- also work nicely either instead of or in addition to paper chains (see separate ideas on those below) if you have enough left over.

Throw your schach / greenery on top, running some ends through loops to hold the branches, etc. nicely in place. Now also check what you are about to throw in the trash lately, as well as what's naturally falling around you. That's more décor materials for your sukkah (like in the photo). Voila, you're set.

We have used the T-shirt webbing approach for years and it's held up through repeated lsraeli rains very nicely, including some pretty heavy storms. And if it ever did fall or fly - although that hasn't happened yet - at least it would do less damage than a flying wood plank or pole, for that matter. The kids and neighbors have always especially looked forward to this added anticipated "ritual" in the sukkah-building event!

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Décor & More / Kishutim

melechet yad / arts & crafts

Besides the most usual for your kishutim/decorations, consider…

  • a boy holding puppetsDo a puppet show
    a paper spiralJust like garden spirals
    Kids' drawings, which can be safety-pinned or clipped either to cloth walls or running on an overhead clothesline (or your sleeve loops! [see above]). If you really have a damp/rain concern (instead of going with the approach of "quick, let's decorate, and come what may" ephemeral-ness…), then seal them in clear Contact paper, a closed plastic binder-sleeve page, or lamination. Drawings can run the entire range, from fruit and veg pics either drawn or cut out from magazines, to symbolic visitors and role models (like cut out collage) to a very simple oval to hand to a small one to fill in a face for "this is how I feel in the sukkah", etc.
  • While we're on the younger set- we've taken favorite stuffed animals and action figures and kept them in a reliably closed plastic container in the sukkah after turning them into temporary puppets. We'd just tie them with leftover T-shirt ties to leftover cardboard roles (from saran-wrap and aluminum foil) to make 'puppet handles'. (make 2 holes at the top of the tube to run the cloth ties through). These little "guests" turned out to have some quite entertaining discussions about "their" sukkah experience (e.g. keep the kids busy) at various waiting points in a large potluck helter-skelter evening, etc. If you want to take that further, grab a large carton, cut out most of the back except enough to keep the box from collapsing, throw on a nice cover for a quick theater curtain, and tell your kids the older folks are expecting "puppet" entertainment before or after dessert on ____ theme.
  • Hanging real food items is nice, but then you have to consider what bugs and animals they attract (here in Israel it may be hotter longer, so some of us shy away from that more, especially if you live in a kibbutz or moshav, etc). An alternative on the theme is to hang from some of your twigs (or cloth loops) what you will nosh on that particular day when hanging out in your sukkah. Like loops of strung popcorn and cheerios.
  • Paper chains tend to be a staple item. But instead of wasting, cut strips from leftover wrapping paper (of course you save that stuff for these occasions) or the colorful pages of old magazines. Cut into strips, staple or glue and you're all set.
  • two kids carving pumpkins
    seashellsUse resources naturally available in your area
    Yet another idea in the paper chain and streamer vein- décor with a message: Put a name of a symbolic guest and/or ancestor on each paper chain link or twisted streamer! On other links, etc. put a word of what you are thankful for. On others, put what "harvest" and good wishes you are hoping and preparing for in the next year.
  • Accordion hanging: Take long wider strips of paper- like a width of 2-3"/4-8cm. and fold up accordion style. Hole-punch in the middle of your folded-up strip (or individually through each section if this gets too thick to punch through). Write your names or messages like above. Run string or colored yarn or ribbon through the holes and hang either across or in shorter sections hanging down.
  • You know those cool garden spirals? Get a plate or cup, marker, scissors and some cardboard or thin (firm) plastic from leftover packaging (aren't you saving up ;-) ?). Old thin plastic lids work well too. Trace the circle shape and then cut out the circle. Starting at the edge, cut a spiraling strip inward - about 1/2-1"/1.5-2cm wide. Be sure that the inside end, or center of the circle- which will become the top for hanging from- remains wide enough to punch a hole through and remain sturdy. If you use clear or other plastic, then before you cut, have the kids decorate it- abstract coloring is fine, using markers. This is good involvement for the littlest dudes, since you would have to do the cutting part through a slightly tougher material.
  • On the subject of firm plastic packaging, especially the clear kind, the same idea can be applied to cutting out simple shapes- circles, squares, triangles, stars, a Magen David (star of David)…. The kids color with markers, you punch holes and hang directly or from other junk or twigs to create little mobiles- voila, recycling and stained-glass-like magic creations at one quick go, either depictions- like of harvest-y foods, or simply abstract colorful.
  • On one sukkah tour years ago we saw a neighbor borrow from Halloween and make a cool pumpkin lantern – a bunch of stars and a half-moon- why not? Beautify and add atmosphere to make your shelter a place you want to hang out with guests successive evenings, pull out a guitar, have a sing-along…
  • Live near the beach? Collect some of the shells with holes. Live near woods? Hang pine cones. Collect feathers to hang or to add them to your pinecones, etc. Viva nature!
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Even More Décor- Think Wind

melechet yad / arts & crafts

We think about the inside, but why not give the outside some attention too :) ?

By the way, ruach / רוח is the Hebrew word for wind (and spirit too- meaning both spiritual and the rah-rah kind).

  • For the younger set- why not a very simple windsock? : Glue 2 blue strips onto a piece of white construction paper, then glue that together to make a tube. Add streamers. Punch 2-4 holes to the tube's top to run string thru. Tie to your frame or a branch end and you're set, at least until it rains.
  • Rain-survivable windsock: If you are lucky enough to have a thin nylon windbreaker (or pants etc.) that you were about to throw out- save it and use it at Sukkot. Cut off the nylon sleeves, with nylon streamer strips stapled or quick-stitched on and voila- a quick windsock that will survive the weather for a while too.
    * If you want to get really fancy, cut the sleeve off the garment keeping the wrist end intact. That is a seam. If it has elastic within it, make a small knick into that seam to pull out the elastic. Thread in some very lightweight wire (even 2-3 connected trash ties will do the trick, or a stiff plastic trash tie instead) to stiffen your windsock top.
  • OR: make a flag out of some of that thin nylon cloth and decorate with water-proof marker- like with a veggie or fruit on it, or "sukkat shalom סובת שלום ", or "welcome / bruchim haba-im ברוכים הבאים"…. Attach your flag to a stick or chopstick, tuck the end of that –sticking outwards- into something at your roof edge, and you're set.
  • For slightly older kids: why not make a few pinwheels to catch the breeze from the edges of your roof or attached to sticks on the ground nearby outside… Either using paper or from thin plastic packaging you were going to throw out.
  • Older kid to adult- whirligigs from hangers and plastic pop bottles always catch attention(extra tip: a few beads on the wire also help, and look nice too). There are simple directions for all kinds of these via Google or YouTube. Then add them into your garden afterwards. It keeps things fun and interesting during the months of less growth around, and the kids learn about wind power too.
  • Junk makes good wind-chimes: like old keys or bits of bamboo or busted bangles or old vacuum cleaner tubes (you can easily punch holes in the light metal kind -to suspend them on fishing line- with a hammer and long nail or awl). Again, they start with your sukkah and then move to your garden.
  • "Cap snakes" & "cap coils"!!!: Good for the inside or the outside of the sukkah. Wash and save up your bottle caps. Take an old nail-scissors, or a busted half of one. They make easy holes in your caps. Save old phone wires (the kind that jack into the wall) or clothesline or jump-rope, etc. for making simple strands ["snakes"], just knotting the lower end. Or buy some covered wire you can shape into coils or whatever you like- just twist one end to act like a knot to hold the last cap. Make any color style you like – blue and white for Israel, red and white for "Dr. Seuss-ian", random, patterned or rainbow. Soda caps, laundry caps, all the same shape and size or varied- it still comes out way cool. Stinging these is an especially good activity for little kids and those with disabilities, but really everyone of all ages always seems to love these (and then they want you to make them some too). Again, these can move to your garden afterwards or be suspended in a tree :) or from a porch… They will likely last a few years with luck.

*Yes, of course these are tested suggestions- we really have done all this craziness.

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Which Way Is Jerusalem?

melechet yad / arts & crafts

Sukkot is a pilgrimage holiday, one of our shalosh regalim. Maybe you can't get to Jerusalem right now, but it is good to have it in our thoughts. And this provides yet another opportunity for hidur hamitzvah/"beautifying the commandment". A mizrach מזרח , meaning "east", is a decorative item (like a little plaque or hanging) you put up on an eastern wall of your home to remind you which way is Jerusalem. So why not make a mizrach to hang in your temporary dwelling ?

Two sample quotes you could use on your mizrach, which also reinforce the idea of hopes for peace, a la "sukkat shalom":

Jerusalem, built as a city where all people come together.  [Psalms 122.3] 
ירושלים הבנויה כעיר שחברה לה יהדו

Yerushala-im habnuya ke-ir shechubra la yachdav.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, all who love her will prosper. [Psalms122.6]
שאלו שלום ירושלים ישליו אהביך

sha-alu shlom Yerushala-im ishlayu ohava-ich.

A mizrach doesn't have to have a quote. It can say mizrach מזרח on it, or Jerusalem ירושלים (Yerushala-im), or simply be a representative picture, or be something having any Jewish symbol/s on it. For example, take some simple shapes to trace, like a series of layered half circles or rectangles. Add windows and some doors to make a semi-abstract "Old City" look. Or make simple block/stone brick shapes together to represent the Kotel (Western Wall).You could just draw this, or do it in permanent marker on a small piece of discarded wood, or do it on a copper sheet you can buy in the nearest craft shop. You would then also need a repousse stick to "draw" lines in the copper (after making a pen sketch on the reverse side), or else take one of those spit sticks for barbeque- just blunt the end somewhat on a hard surface before using. A pen without the point, or the somewhat pointed cap end (like with the Bic kind), will probably also work.

OR: Alternatively make a mizrach with this technique: You start out with a piece of heavy cardboard or a large-ish old plastic lid. Sketch out your simple drawing or word on it. Have scissors, string or pipe cleaner and white glue ready. Cut and glue the string over your outline. Let dry. Gently cover completely with aluminum foil (the thicker, less easy-to-tear version). Carefully press down around the glued lines to create a relief drawing. Only after you have done the pressing down on the lines- seal the foil shut in the back with a kind of waterproof tape for survival's sake through the week, if you want to avoid children's tears and so you can still use it indoors afterwards (or after completed, seal in a binder-type plastic sleeve for the outdoors). Outline the sides of those glued and covered lines in dark or black marker. Color the raised "inside" parts in lighter marker shades.  

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Ushpizin (+a movie!)

a decorated chair Decorate a special guest chair
  1. Look over and use the accompanying discussion points in our "Let's Talk About It" section ("Guess Who's Coming To Dinner").
  1. Also see our "Worthwhile Info" section for more background ("Ushpizim").
  • See your sukkah through the eyes of one of the ushpizin. Whom would you wish to invite from the Bible, elsewhere from history, or from your family's roots, etc?
  • Role-play a conversation with one such "guest". What would you ask them? What would they ask you and what would they comment on, or think most important, or be surprised by now….?
  • Interview a rabbi, teacher, family relative and/or guest on a memory tour of previous sukkahs they have made or seen!
  • Start a new tradition: Be sure to have a special guest chair and decorate it fit for royalty!
  • Create simple symbols to hang of divine/human attributes :) and/or decorated names of ushpizim.
  • ***For older youth and adults: Watch a good, complete movie (Hebrew) with English subtitles. "Ushpizin" was a successful film both with box-office and critics, released in August 2004. It is worth watching on its own merits, as well as giving a taste of Israeli culture and the arts (the background on the film is also interesting). It's likely to spark discussion as well. Please support Israeli cinema - the movie is legally available to watch online through the links below.
    "In Jerusalem's orthodox neighborhoods, it's Succoth, seven days celebrating life's essentials in a sukkot, a temporary shack of both deprivation and hospitality. A devout couple, Moshe and Mali, married nearly five years and childless, are broke and praying for a miracle. Suddenly, miracles abound: a friend finds Moshe a sukkot he says is abandoned, Moshe is the beneficiary of local charitable fundraising, and two escaped convicts arrive on Moshe and Mali's doorstep in time to be their ushpizin - their guests. The miracles then become trials. Rabbinical advice, absolution, an effort to avoid anger, and a 1000-shekel citron figure in Moshe's dark night of the soul."
    Ushpizin on iTunes
    Ushpizin on Amazon
    To check out a good 7 minute excerpt:

    Agnon's Etrog in "Ushpizin"
    "Scene's from Shuli Rand's film "Ushpizin" (2004) which particularly echo S.Y. Agnon's short story "Etrogo shel Oto Tzadik" (in "HaEish vehaEitzim"); translated as "That Tzaddik's Etrog" (in "A Book That Was Lost" - Toby Press)."
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I Am Thankful That…

a boy with a hand-written paper that says Thank You "Thank you"

Have each person write a little note or word of something or someone they are thankful for. These can be anonymous if the writer prefers. Put them in a large kiddush cup or basket (in keeping with the harvests themes). Mix them up and have everyone pull out one to read, or post them up on a small bulletin board for everyone to look over in class or in the sukkah. These kinds of things make for nice family traditions too.

For the little guys in school, etc. , have each share one thing they are thankful for. Make a list on the board. Then go around and ask what would be a good symbol for that, like a heart for family love, a friendship bracelet for friends, a book or letter for school/daycare, a crayon for arts and crafts, an apple for fall fruit, etc. Those could be scrounged up and/or drawn and hung in the sukkah too of course! Or from your classroom ceiling, on a clothesline, on a class mobile, in a small "model sukkah" in a carton…

By the way, for pictures on something heavier- for suspending in a sukkah or class, why not use the backs of boxes that food comes in (like cereal boxes, mixes, et al). And it's more recycling, keeping in the spirit. Maybe it will spread the habit to home too. Punch a hole and hang on the wall or suspend two pictures from above, back to back, so that however it turns something decorative is showing.

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Sixty Percent is Serious Business

(ok, & fun too)

  1. Look over and use the accompanying discussion points in our "Let's Talk About It" section.
  2. Also see our "Overview" and "Worthwhile Info" sections for more background.

Here are some ideas and potential components for new Simchat Bet HaShoeva (water ceremony) and/or Tefilat Geshem (rain prayer) experiences : ) :

Either together (better for little guys) or working in teams that will make presentations after a short brainstorming session:

  • Create a contemporary prayer, song, and/or rousing chant about
    • how we appreciate all of water's vital uses in life
    • and/or for rain and sufficient water
  • Create a dance, pantomime and/or acrobatic act, preferably somehow involving water! Actual water and also make-believe are both possibilities for this too.
  • Have a sing-off contest between teams where each song must have the word water or related type words (rain, ocean, river, sink, etc.).


two smiling kids standing in a puddle
  • If you are at home (or can do it at school or in your youth group) and it's hot during the chag, definitely also play water games, like with squirt toys, water shpritz (spray) bottles, empty dish soap bottles (clean all the soap out really well first)...
  • Also, if it's not cold and you're all at home together, run out in the rain and everyone have a chant of thanks ready! Agree ahead of time that you will do this and plan the family rain chant, and then everyone likely starts watching weather reports.
  • Of course you could also plan a class "rain-thanks chant" for the next time any rain shows up while at school and run to the windows, all set (we just don't want anyone stuck in soggy clothes, unless they already arrived on a rainy day of course and have umbrellas ready).
  • Create bumper-sticker style placards with very simple art/symbols and snappy mottos about how precious water is and/or other related topics. Put these up around your school or synagogue for Sukkot.
  • Learn the song and dance Ushavtem Mayim /And You Drew Water.
    Listen to the song here:

    Lyrics and dance instructions are at this link:
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A Little Improv…

A smiling alien waving and saying 'Shalom, Earthlings' Try explaining Sukkot to a visiting alien
  • How would you explain Sukkot to someone who never heard of this and knows absolutely nothing about it?
    Like what might you tell a friendly, curious visiting alien?
  • Or: What might a reporter ask an expert guest?
  • Or: You just moved, and yours is the very first sukkah ever in your area. (Or you set up one in a park). What kind of reactions and questions might you get? What universal themes could you tap into to compare and share? What unique or especially cool aspects of our holiday might you wish to be sure to include? 
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If The Walls Had Ears…

a space station
  • If your sukkah of the previous year could hear and talk (or that of the congregation), what might it recount as to events that occurred in it? What advice and reminders might it give you for the coming year, what Broadway style song might it come up with, what good wishes might it want to express to you, what funny things might it say, etc.? This obviously also makes for a fine role-play, mock interview or successive short presentations prepared in small teams.
  • For littlest folk, ask for example what the sukkah thinks about all the basic things that go on with it and within it, what it remembers of events, what makes it happy, excited, sad…, who it wants to have come over and visit, etc. They can also answer as if they were the sukkah, of course, in which case, you can start off with something along the lines of "Guess what? Poof! You are the sukkah. What do you want to tell me?..."
  • Older participants: This is good for a review of both ritual and building basics, plus some takes some creative thinking- What kind of issues might come up - and exemptions or workarounds might one need to discuss with a rabbi - if you celebrated Sukkot on the International Space Station? Even "for-granted's" as simple as direction, the length of a day, precious plant material, recycling, etc. take on a whole new perspective! Actually, if you think about it, this really could come up one day soon enough!
    While you're at it, why not invite your congregation's rabbi for this discussion with "Tomorrow's Astronauts", like for a hypothetical "consultation" :) ?
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The Power of A Circle

There are many instances of circling and gathering in on Sukkot. There is the circuit around the synagogue with one's lulav and etrog while saying hoshanot, and seven circuits on Hoshana Rabbah (on the seventh day of Sukkot). There is the encircling embrace of the sukkah itself and all it represents, including the presence of God - similar to God's dwelling among us in that portable desert mishkan (tabernacle) and God's attributes also visiting through the ushpizim. There is the gathering in of harvest and preparations for winter, all parts of nature and agricultural cycles. There is the future hoped-for peaceful in- gathering of all world peoples in Jerusalem on Sukkot in the days of messiah – and our own "sukkat shalom", sukkah of peace. And of course it takes a circle to make a hug, to feel sheltered, cared about and secure.

Have each person draw a circle: Within it, either write key words or draw simple symbols of what is important to you during Sukkot and/or what this chag represents for you. These can be posted up or taken home to put up in the sukkah.

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How's Your Internal Calendar Doing?

This is the start of the school year (in Israel and the Northern Hemisphere) and there are a whole flurry of chagei Tishrei (High Holidays) to absorb. In our Rosh HaShana packet, we included the subject of calendar in our "Let's Get Busy" section. This is certainly worth some review and reinforcement at this point. Either using symbols or cards with the Hebrew name or transliteration, we urge you to turn simple holiday symbols into a quiz game like Hollywood Squares, Jeopardy, or even Tic-Tac-Toe with multiple rounds.

  • Play Pictionary using vocabulary words, symbols and/or concepts handed out on cards. Two teams use rotating representatives going up to the board per round. First side to guess his representive's doodling depicting what's on the mission card gets the point.
  • Chagei Tishrei / Tishrei Holidays & Events:
    Make up cards for teams to put in order :) . Of course you can make more or less cards, easier ones for tiny tots- like you have to build the sukkah- walls first and then the top, then decorate it, then invite people, then eat in it… and harder ones for older mavins/experts, like in the below sample version of this game, without holiday name aids, which they would have to supply themselves):
an apple hand-drawn on a board


  • Eat an apple and honey, and say happy birthday to the world. (Rosh HaShana)
  • Make amends with other people. (Aseret Yamim Teshuva- aka Days of Awe) [Reminder- these are the ten days of "return" spanning from Rosh HaShana to Yom Kippur].
  • Ask for forgiveness from God. (Yom Kippur)
  • Build a sukkah. (starting right after Yom Kippur)
  • Wave your arba-a minim/four species in six directions. (Sukkot)
  • Camp out in your sukkah, of course! (Sukkot)
  • Invite friends for more meals and fun in your sukkah, and go "touring" too. (Sukkot)
  • Beat willows and get your really last chance at forgiveness. (Hoshanna Rabba)
  • Say a tefilat geshem/prayer for rain. (Shemini Atzeret)
  • Wave a flag for our joy of Torah while following the scrolls around the synagogue & hear the Torah read from the beginning. (Simchat Torah)
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By the Way, We Were Tribes In That Desert

By chance were you thinking of studying the twelve tribes this year? Well since one of the Sukkot themes includes our sojourn in the desert, and we happened to be in tribal form then (before ten of them later got "lost" in history), why not learn the names? This would work well, for example, as a game of Bingo or Concentration.

The Tribes of Israel

*Where the Anglicized version differs from the Hebrew, it's added in parentheses.

These are based on Yaakov (Jacob)'s sons:
  • Reuven רְאוּבֵן (Reuben)
  • Shimon שִׁמְעוֹן (Simeon)
  • Levi לֵוִי (the priesthood bunch, who did not possess a separate land allotment later)
  • Yehuda יְהוּדָה (Judah)
  • Dan דָּן
  • Naftali נַפְתָּלִי
  • Gad גָּד
  • Asher אָשֵׁר
  • Yisachar יִשָּׂשׁכָר (Issachar)
  • Zevulun זְבוּלֻן (Zebulun)
Yosef יוֹסֵף (Joseph)'s sons:
  • Efraim אֶפְרָיִם
  • + Menashe מְנַשֶּׁה
  • Binyamin בִּנְיָמִין (Benjamin)

Be a sleuth and/or an artist (advanced age/ level)

Look up the symbols and flags for each tribe. These vary somewhat depending on the source, by the way. But here's a Biblical one to start you off- Numbers 2:2. Also Google twelve+tribes+symbols, both for sleuthing and then again in "Images". It's pretty cool. In your studies you can then develop this into a very nice art project. Also check out purported 'characteristics' of each tribe.

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a camel Using a camel as a sukkah wall? "We are not amused."

For teaching vocabulary and/or concepts: This can be played in Hebrew or with transliteration. For resource, use our other sections, starting with "Good To Know In Hebrew", as it’s a handy list. Difficulty can run the gamut.

Divide the class into teams. Assign each group different cards. They will create 3-4 answers for each card, only one of which should be correct.

General Example

lulav is a => salad, citrus, palm.

Example of concentrating on a kosher sukkah

It's ok to build a sukkah => with a camel as a wall, with enough space on top to see stars, you can take your sukkah on a camel [yes, actually you can], you can use plastic on top to keep out rain.

While you're at it, show this video first :) :

Advanced Idea

*As to that camel, he was mentioned along with the elephant in the part of the Talmud dealing with Sukkot. The camel is too problematic as a wall, although the sukkah can be on the camel. You would think the elephant-serving-as-sukkah-wall would be automatically knocked out too but…

If you have older students or are playing around as a family, we again urge you to "get thee to a computer" and Google 'elephant + sukkah'! Now some of you already know that we are the vegetarian and very animal-loving Hebrew lesson company, and we obviously would never encourage using animals as walls and such(!), but that was not really the purpose of the Talmudic discussion at all. It's simply an educational "snapshot"- a terrific opportunity to get a taste of how the minds of the sages worked a problem and hypothetical angles, and also gives a flavor for their times :) .

This also gives us another direction: For if the sages were writing this today, what distinctly modern issues might come up that would have ended up in the Talmud regarding Sukkot instead of camels and elephants? (For a real simple, easy example, sukkah in a van vs. sukkah on a pick-up truck- which is kosher or not and why?). In observant communities the interaction with modern innovations always raises more questions, and not only for the first observant astronaut trying to figure out sundown to start Shabbat while orbiting the earth but down here too. Rabbis do get consulted today when an issue comes up that needs resolving, or write up a position when a new innovation starts to show up- and like in ancient times, they do not always agree with one another. What might some of those contemporary issues be? How might this vary, depending on what stream of Judaism is being followed? For another simple example, the ancient sages didn't have to deal with living in Alaska or northern Canada, and how this also affects sunset times and all. They didn't have to deal with cellphone calls during dinner, GMO foods, or virtual worlds either.
(As for more on outer space, see also "If The Walls Had Ears" above).

For the tiny tots: Instead of teams, it is enough for the teacher to say s/he got a bit confused and to make some false and true statements - the kids get to tell you when you got it wrong ;-) . Just make sure they do, so that everyone keeps their facts straight in the end. And especially at home, 4-5+ year olds go through a very entertaining stage where they love to feel like they suddenly know everything compared to ditzy Mom and Dad (which of course reappears in a second stage starting about a decade later).

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Multimedia Aids

We cover fruits and vegetables, animals, counting to ten and more! So check out some of our free multimedia reviews and games, plus other materials you may find helpful for using in your lessons and activities now and throughout the year: Go to The LearnHebrewPod Free Hebrew Resources Collection