Last Day of Sukkot – Celebrating Feast of Tabernacles

The last day of Sukkot occurs on the 21st day of the Jewish month of Tishrei. This ranges from September to October. In 2021, the last day of Sukkot ends on the evening of Monday, 27 September.

It marks the end of a period known as the Feast of Tabernacles,also known as the Feast of Ingathering and in some translations the Festival of Shelters. Sukkot is one of three festivals which Torah mandated when Jews should have a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This practice stopped after the destruction of the holy temple but some Jews still pay a visit to Jerusalemis . The last day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabbah.

Background

Hoshana Rabbah is known as the day of the final sealing of judgment, which began on Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and it occurs on the first day of Tishrei. It commemorates the creation of the world with the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman according to the book of Genesis. After Rosh Hashanah Jews observe a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that concludes with the Yom Kippur holiday, also known as the Day of Atonement. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the two “High Holy Days” in the Jewish religion.

4 days after Yom Kippur Jews celebrate the first day of Sukkot. Sukkot continues for a week during which Jews eat and sleeping in sukkahs, which they set in their garden or balcony. It remembers the years that the people of Israel spent sheltered in sukkahs while crossing the desert from Egypt to the Promised Land. The last day of Sukkot ends the feast of Tabernacles.

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Celebrating Last Day of Sukkot

According to some sources Sukkot lasts for about seven days while others state that it is an eight-day festival. The seventh day of Sukkot is known as Hoshana Rabbah. Shemini Atzeret is the eighth day when the Jewish people spend an additional day with God at the end of Sukkot.

It is customary to read the whole of Tehillim (Psalms) on Hoshana Rabbah eve. There is also a custom to read the book of Deuteronomy (the fifth book of the Torah) on the night of Hoshana Rabbah.

Jews celebrate the last day of Sukkot with a special synagogue service. During the service, observers will take rolls of the Torah out from the ark. Then they walk around the synagogue seven times while reciting Sukkot prayer called Hoshanot holding the “four species”. People may also perform this in the sukkahs or at home. The entire ceremony demonstrates rejoicing and gratitude for a blessed and fruitful year. In addition, it serves to tear down the iron wall that separates us from our Father in Heaven.

On the morning prayer service in the synagogue , after the waving of the Four Species,each worshipper takes a separate bundle containing five aravah branches (willow tree branches).Then they read a series of verses expressing hope for the speedy coming of the Messiah. Then they beat the bundle of branches against the ground until many of the leaves have fallen out. Then they throw away the aravah or sometimes place it in water in order to grow new aravah trees. This practice reflects the idea that Hoshana Rabbah is the end of the High Holy Day season when the world is judged for the coming year. 

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