From Sukkot to Simhat Torah

Erev Simhat Bet Hashoeva

Gila Ansell Brauner

There are two religious ceremonies and one celebration connected with water in the month of Tishrei:

  • the solemn, private Tashlich prayer for the symbolic cleansing of sins over flowing water on Rosh Hashana;
  • the communal prayer for rain in Israel on Shemini Atzeret;
    the associated Erev Simhat Bet Hashoeva, commemorating the Libation Ceremony in Jerusalem of Temple times. (Water is also compared with the Torah in Shir Hashirim Rabba.)

Flowing water versus rainfall and conserved water - from solemnity to hope and celebration in national and spiritual life. Thus we approach the conclusion of the one month-plus period of soul-searching and begin in full the cycle of another year on Simhat Torah. (Please see background files on Sukkot.)


The original Libation Ceremony was musical, with people dancing in the street with torches - a crowd celebration with water and wine being poured on the Temple altar, too.

Israeli kibbutzim tended to choose a staged presentation with readings, choruses, songs and water carriers; Festival prayers include excellent lyric poetry for readings; there are many traditional and modern Israeli songs referring to water...


One recommendation is to enlarge the scope of the activity to make this your main programme over the Succot Festival, not entirely limited to the location of your Succah - unless it is extremely large!

The Flow Chart of your programme should look something like this:

  1. Pre-activity - make related decorations to set the stage.
  2. Pre-activity - rehearse at least a small group in Festival and water songs, choose music tapes/videos for atmosphere.
  3. Pre-activity - select quiz panel or prepare quiz teams for all participants.
  4. Reception of your members to something musical, continued by a short, choral opening. For students and adults, greet with a glass of Israeli wine, grape or fruit juice.
  5. Open the event with a guest and say something about its significance. If you have no guest, make it short and show visuals instead.
  6. If you're doing a drama presentation, now's the time.
  7. Close this section of the programme and move chairs.
  8. For youth and children, play a selection of team games* with food-tasting, painted batons and water; for students and adults - food and wine tasting comes at the end!
  9. Optional Israeli dance section.
  10. Move to the succah or kumsitz, or sit on blankets/the floor and learn the water songs; move to free singing. Use a guest singer if you feel it is suitable. This is the time to provide drinks, biscuits (or baked potatoes) or a more "refined" menu for adults.


  1. Blindfolded food tasting at several tables for different teams
  2. Baton and relay races with an etrog or lulav
  3. Pass the etrog between your knees or from chin to chin down the team
  4. First team to find a song beginning with the word/letter ....
  5. Relay ladder climb (pack the area with mattresses in case of falls)
  6. Relay bucket of water race (the aim is to have a full bucket at the end!)
  7. Human pyramids / 15 people on a chair
  8. The best "orchestra"
  9. Scavenger hunt
  10. How many glasses of water you can drink (1 volunteer per team) in a set time
  11. Filling a bucket from small plastic kiddush cups (five cups a team)

See also: Short Games file.


  1. Ush'avtem mayim...
  2. Havu lanu yayin...
  3. The Prayer for Rain


We offer below a few examples of serious and humorous questions for your quiz; the answers to the serious challenges can be found in the background files.


1. For 5 points: give three main features for choosing a "beautiful" lulav.

2. For 5 points: give three main features for choosing an etrog.

3. For 5 points: give the main features for choosing hadassim [myrtle branches] and aravot [willow branches].

4. How many walls must a succah have? [2 points]

5. Explain where a succah may be built and where not [5 points]

6. How high may a succah be? [2 points]

7. How many times do we go round the bimah for "hosha'not"? [2 points]

8. Which mitzvot can we perform in the succah? [5 points]

9. What does the succah represent? [3 points]

10.Name 3 traditional Succot dishes you know. [3 points]

11.What special Megillah [book] do we read on Succot and when? [3 points]

12.What do each of the 4 species represent? [5 points]

13.Name two community customs associated with Hol Hamo'ed Succot [the intermediate days]. [3 points]

14.What do you say when your guests come into the Succah? and so on!


1. How many leaves in a lulav? [give 3 figures]

2. How many bumps on an etrog? [give 3 options]

3. How many meters / feet in the average 7 hakafot around the bima?

4. How many calories in a holishke?

5. Find out the record number of guests in the succot of the competitors!

6. What would you say to xxx if s/he were to visit your succah?

7. Your neighbor has brought a case against you for construction without planning permission [your succah!]. In court, the judge decided that you have to dismantle it within 8 days or pay a fine. What are you going to tell the news reporter outside?!!

8. Think of a slogan: [15 seconds simultaneously for all competitors] A succah is a place where ..... or Come to my succah because .....

9. Coca Cola have decided to sponsor a succah competition: how will you decorate your succah?

10.Name three succot you would like to visit in a super-succah crawl! and many, many more!



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09 Jun 2005 / 2 Sivan 5765 0