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Now, after the formal grandeur of the Days of Awe, comes Sukkot, possibly the most fabulous holiday on the Jewish calendar. 

Sukkot has its origins in an ancient autumnal harvest festival, and much of the imagery and ritual of the holiday revolves around rejoicing and giving thanks for the harvest. The sukkah itself represent the huts that farmers would live in during the last hectic period of harvest before the coming of the winter rains.

One of the other central rituals of sukkot is the Lulav and Etrog - the four species (palm, myrtle, willow and citron) that we bring together as a way of givening thanks for the bounty of the earth, and also of centering our hearts on the flow of divine energy. We wave the four species of plants in each of six directions - north, west, east, south, towards the heavens and towards the earth. If you want to know more about how to shake a lulav and etrog, this video can help!

According to the mystical tradition, we also welcome ushpizin, or ancestor guests, to celebrate with us. Some people invite the biblical patriarchs, some invite the biblical matriarchs, and some invite other guests altogether.

Also central to the holiday is the book of Ecclesiasties, or Qohelet, as its know in Hebrew.   Qohelet teaches that we are ephemeral, like the sukkah itself and the lulav and etrog which we shake inside of it, and asks us to consider what we do with the time we have. You can study the book of Ecclesiastes here, it's actually my favorite book of the Bible.

If you want to know more about sukkot, this is a great place to start learning.

Open to the Sky: The Beacon Sukkah Project

A sukkah is a house that gives no shelter, a house that parodies the idea of security.

It's a Jewish sand mandala of a building, open to the sky and used for seven days around the time of the fall harvest and then dismantled. It's rickety and tenuous, creating the illusion of permanence and highlighting the impermanence of everything.

Sukkot (pronounced sue-coat) is the name of both the ephemeral houses and the holiday during which they are used.

To read some of the press on Open to the Sky, click here.

Open to the Sky: Conversations

These days, it can feel difficult, if not impossible, to talk to people who are different than us - different ages, or genders, or religions, or political persuasions. We, as a society, are better at shouting and denouncing than we are at listening and inquiring. 

The Sukkah, however, is a meeting place, a place where opposing energies can be brought together in pursuit of what is holy and good, so in this fractured moment, the focus of Open to the Sky is talking Face to Face. 

There is something powerful, magical even, that can happen when we really listen and talk with each other face to face. This year, the focus is going to be on conversation, not presentation; on dialogue, not monologue. The focus is us - the people of Beacon and beyond. We are inviting the whole Beacon community to grab a cup of coffee and come talk to each other. 


Open to the Sky: The Beacon Sukkah Project will be at Polhill Park in Beacon, NY (by the Beacon Visitors' Center).

For the week that Open to the Sky is up, there will be events, classes, workshops, children's programs, and more that are open to everyone, free of charge. Check out our full calendar of events; see what seems interesting, and come and visit.

All of the programs of Open to the Sky are offered without charge; however, there are (of course) costs associated with the construction and maintenance of this project and others like it. We hope you will support Open to the Sky with a donation of any size.


One of the main things we do in the sukkah is come together to learn, to teach and to explore. So, if you have something you want to teach the community, a workshop you want to run, or a conversation you want to host, we hope you’ll sign up to be a guide at Open to the Sky: The Beacon Sukkah Project.  

We are proud to again be organizing Open to the Sky: The Beacon Sukkah Project together with Beacon Arts.

Wed, June 7 2023 18 Sivan 5783