Jews will pound at least one nail into their sukkah framework tonight in anticipation of the holiday of Sukkot that begins at sundown Wednesday. Sukkot – Hebrew for “booths” – is a seven-day harvest festival that follows the solemn holy day of Yom Kippur, ending today when three stars are visible in the sky. Having access to a sukkah or booth at synagogue or at home is the prerequisite for observing the holiday. The Torah verse for the commandment to dwell in sukkot, plural for sukkah, is found in Leviticus 23:42. Getting a start on constructing this temporary dwelling is traditional at night after Yom Kippur ends because it links doing one mitzvah – a commandment – to observe Yom Kippur to the mitzvah of dwelling in a sukkah for Sukkot. “Sukkot is in dramatic contrast to Yom Kippur. We celebrate the abundance of the harvest after emerging from the judgment of Yom Kippur,” said Rabbi Gershon Weissman from Temple Beth Haverim in Agoura Hills. “To be `oh so happy’ is what we are during Sukkot. It is known as the season of our happiness.” Many faithful try to observe the mitzvah to “dwell in a booth” by at least eating a meal in a sukkah that has been constructed at their synagogue. But building one’s own backyard sukkah has become a popular family project in recent years. It takes a fair amount of planning to build a sukkah at home that, ideally, should be constructed the day after Yom Kippur. That’s because there are particular rules for the size and materials that should be used. The sukkah must be large enough for at least one person to sit in, and some can accommodate 100 people like the sukkah at Temple Beth Haverim. One of the walls of the sukkah can be an existing wall of a building, but the other walls have to be sturdy enough so that they won’t fall down or be blown over. The frame of a sukkah may be made of wood poles or aluminum. The roof is covered with plant material like palm branches, corn stalks or bamboo. There should be enough covering to give shade but also enough to see stars. “Sukkot has three aspects. It’s an agricultural festival. It’s historical because it represents our wandering in the desert for 40 years. It’s spiritual because these little huts remind us of the fragility of life,” said Rabbi Jan Offel from Temple Kol Tikvah in Woodland Hills. “We eat and sleep in the sukkah we build. If it rains, it could topple over. The sukkah reminds us that we aren’t in control of everything.” The fragility of the natural world is an obvious topic for families to discuss as they sit and eat a meal – traditionally grain-based dishes and sweets – in their decorated sukkah. Some decorations include fruits and vegetables, paper crafts and Jewish New Year cards. “Sukkot is a wonderful holiday because it is about nature. It’s appropriate for us in the San Fernando Valley because we are not very connected to nature,” said Rabbi Donald Goor from Temple Judea in Tarzana. The environment will be the theme for the sukkah that the congregation of Temple Judea will be decorating at the inaugural “Sunday in the Sukkah” event Sept. 30. The event is organized by The Jewish Federation Valley Alliance at Pierce College’s annual Harvest Festival in Woodland Hills. “The Pierce College event every year is a living re-enactment of the harvest. This is an opportunity for people to learn about this holiday,” said Carol Koransky, executive director of The Jewish Federation Valley Alliance in West Hills. “We hope that by building together (people will feel) a relationship and community. We hope it will be an experiential day in that people will feel it with all their senses, like the braying of the donkeys at the petting zoo and the smell of the corn.” The federation is providing the framing for the seven participating synagogues: Temple Judea, Temple Kol Tikvah, Congregation Or Ami, Temple Aliyah, Shomrei Torah Synagogue, Valley Beth Shalom and Temple Ahavat Shalom. The temples each will decorate their own sukkah and offer a craft-making project. Singers and dancers will perform and SOVA, a food pantry, will collect nonperishable items. “On Sukkot, we move out of the comforts of our homes to be in a frail, fragile booth with no substantial roof in order to see the stars,” said Weissman. “It’s a time when we gaze and see all of God’s creation and appreciate the creation of the universe. It’s a beautiful celebration.” [email protected] (818) 713-3708 “Artful Dwellings: Sukkot at the Skirball”, an exhibition of three interpretations of a sukkah by artists Sam Erenberg, Therman Statomand Marlene Zimmerman, 10a.m.-5p.m. Saturday and Sunday; noon-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; closed today and Sept. 27, Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. Exhibit runs through Nov. 11. Admission: $10; $7 seniors and students and children over 12; $5 children 5-12. Call (310) 440-4500 or see www.skirball.org. Sukkot Shabbat dinner and service, 6:30p.m. dinner followed by a service led by Rabbi Michael Mayersohn and Cantor Sharone Rosen, 8 p.m. Friday, Temple Beth Torah, 16651 Rinaldi St., Granada Hills. Reservations for dinner due by Wednesday. Tickets: $10; $8 for children 8 and under. Bring a potluck vegetable or casserole dish to share for six people. Call (818) 831-0835 or see www.bethtorah-sfv.org. Sukkot bring-your-own picnic and service, with Rabbis James Lee Kaufman and Sarah Hronsky and Cantor Alan Weiner, 5:30p.m. Wednesday, Temple Beth Hillel, 12326 Riverside Drive, Valley Village. Call (818) 763-9148 or see www.tbhla.org. Sukkot service and vegetarian potluck dinner, 5:45p.m. Wednesday, Temple Sinai of Glendale, 1212 N. Pacific Ave. Call (818) 246-8101. Sukkot bring-your-own picnic and service, 6:30p.m. Wednesday, Temple Kol Tikvah, 20400 Ventura Blvd, Woodland Hills. Call (818) 880-4880. Sukkot services, 9a.m. Thursday and Friday, Temple Ramat Zion, 17655 Devonshire St., Northridge. Call (818) 360-1881 or see www.trz.org. Sukkot services, 9:30a.m. Thursday and Friday, Temple Beth Haverim, 29900 Ladyface Court, Agoura Hills. Call (818) 991-7111 or see www.templebethhaverim.org. Sukkot services: 10a.m. Thursday, at these Chabad Centers, 30345 Canwood St., Agoura Hills; 2524 Townsgate Road, Westlake Village; 5998 Conifer St., Oak Park; 2060 Avenida de los Arboles, Thousand Oaks, and 3871 Old Topanga Canyon, Calabasas. Call (818) 991-0991. Campfire Sukkot service held by Congregation Or Ami of Agoura Hills, call for time and location, Friday. Call (818) 880-4880. Sukkot service led by Rabbi Karen Bender and Cantorial soloist Mark Britowich, 7-9p.m. Friday, Temple Judea, 5429 Lindley Ave., Tarzana. Dinner: 6-7 p.m.; call for details. Call (818) 758-3800 or see www.templejudea.org. “Sunday in the Sukkah,” presented by The Jewish Federation Valley Alliance, 11a.m.-3p.m. Sept. 30, Pierce College Farm Center, corner of De Soto Avenue and Victory Boulevard, Woodland Hills. Entrance fee; free parking. Call (818) 464-3239.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!