Welcome! If you landed here because you’re interested in building a sukkah, you came to the right place. We’ll walk you through every aspect of building a sukkah: why you should build a sukkah, when you should build your sukkah, where to build the sukkah, what makes a sukkah kosher, and how to get it done!
Why Should I Build a Sukkah?
The sukkah allows you to perform the mitzvah of celebrating Sukkot. Sukkot is referred to by two names in the Torah: Chag HaAsif, the “Harvest Festival”, and Chag HaSukkot, the “Festival of Booths.”
The first name, Chag HaAsif, refers to the seasonal significance of Sukkot—it is a harvest festival that celebrates the joys and blessings of a bountiful harvest. In this context, the sukkah is representative of the temporary huts that farmers would have lived in during the last hectic part of the fall harvest.
The second name, Chag HaSukkot, holds a more historical significance. In this context the sukkah reminds us of the shelter G-d provided to the children of Israel when he brought them out of Egypt, and as they wandered the desert for 40 years: “For a seven day period you shall live in booths […] in order that your [ensuing] generations should know that I had the children of Israel live in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:42-43).
By building the sukkah you will be able to fulfill the mitzvot of Sukkot—building the sukkah, decorating the sukkah, eating in the sukkah, shaking the arba minim, and spending time in the sukkah.
When Should I Build My Sukkah?
Sukkot begins five days after Yom Kippur, on the 15th day of Tishrei. The sukkah should be built as soon as possible after Yom Kippur. If you cannot start building at the end of the day, then start as soon as you can the next morning. Ideally you should have completed your sukkah on the day after Yom Kippur. This is easiest to accomplish if you use an easy-to-build, klutz-proof sukkah kit like those we offer at The Sukkah Project®!
Where Should I Build My Sukkah?
Your sukkah should be built close to your home so that it is easy to spend time in the sukkah; spending time in the sukkah during Sukkot is a mitzvah, after all!
However, one of the critical components of a kosher sukkah is that it is open to the sky—this means that the sukkah must be placed outside, and you can’t build it under anything that will block the sky from above the sukkah. Make sure there aren’t any trees or structures that will hang above the sukkah when you’re deciding where to build it.
It is even okay to build a sukkah on your deck or balcony, so long as it is open to the sky above the sukkah. We’ve made many custom sukkah kits for customers who need a sukkah that will fit on their small or awkwardly-shaped apartment balcony in big cities like New York and Chicago.
What Makes a Sukkah Kosher?
In the most basic sense, the sukkah is a partial shelter from the elements. It should be sturdy, but not too sturdy, “Strong enough to withstand normal winds, but not a raging storm” (Rabbi Michael Strassfeld).
Though the sukkah can take many forms, there are a few basic rules that must be followed in order for the sukkah to be considered kosher:
- At a minimum, the sukkah should have at least two full walls and one partial wall. More walls (e.g. four full walls, or even a unique six-sided sukkah) are okay, but not necessary.
- The bottom of the walls should be no more than 9 inches (3 “hands”) above the ground.
- If fabric is used, it should be securely fastened to the frame all around so it will not flap in the wind. Unlike many other sukkah manufacturers who have to use mehadrin straps to circumvent this requirement because of floppy walls, our tubular sukkah kits and wood-frame sukkah kits use very taut wall material so that the walls do not flap in the wind, and do not need mehadrin straps. If you prefer to have solid wood walls instead, our wood-frame sukkah kits can be purchased without the fabric wall material, and include instructions for using plywood, lattice, or other wall material alternatives.
- The s’chach (the material that covers the roof) must be composed of organic material—specifically, plant life that has been detached from the ground prior to being laid upon the sukkah. Examples of ideal s’chach include palm fronds, evergreen boughs, prunings from ornamental bushes, tall grasses or reeds, corn stalks, or bamboo. It is usually best to avoid anything with an unpleasant odor, or anything with leaves that will drop off and litter the sukkah.
- Generally, any manufactured or processed materials—even if organic—cannot be used for s’chach. An exception is kosher bamboo s’chach mats manufactured according to rabbinical specifications with the intent purpose of covering a sukkah.
- The s’chach should not be supported by a non-organic material such as metal or PVC. Our tubular sukkah kits use bamboo poles on top of the metal frame to support the s’chach, and our wood-frame sukkah kits use wood beams to support the s’chach, both of which are kosher.
- The s’chach should be thick enough to provide more shade than sun, but not so thick as to block out the stars at night.
- The s’chach should be laid on the roof as the very last step of building the sukkah (aside from decorations), only after covering the walls is completed.
- The Festival of Sukkot is associated with beauty and joyous celebration, and special efforts should be made to decorate and creatively enhance the sukkah (Hiddur Mitzvah). Special decorative items are available from The Sukkah Project®.
All of the sukkah kits we sell at The Sukkah Project® meet these halachic requirements for building a kosher sukkah.
How Do I Build a Sukkah?
The absolute quickest, easiest, and most foolproof way to build a sukkah is by using one of our tubular sukkah kits. These klutz-proof sukkah kits require no tools, and most of the family-sized models can easily be built in under an hour, allowing you more time to decorate and enjoy your new sukkah!
If you feel comfortable using a power screwdriver and don’t mind spending a little more time, our wood-frame sukkah kits are very affordable, easy to build, and result in a sturdy and attractive sukkah. We provide all the hardware and klutz-proof instructions you need, as well as optional fabric SukkahScreen™ wall material. The assembly instructions include a detailed lumber list; simply bring the lumber list to your local hardware store to pick up the wood you’ll need for the sukkah, and then you’ll have everything required to build a strong and beautiful sukkah!
Since 5757 (1996), klutz-proof sukkah kits from The Sukkah Project® have enabled thousands of families, congregations, and schools to build sturdy, affordable sukkot in a variety of sizes and styles. Our sukkah kits require no construction skill or expertise and are designed with the novice builder in mind. We’re a small, family-run business, and we are always available to help if questions come up during the building process.
Our klutz-proof sukkah kits will allow you to relax and enjoy the fulfillment of this beautiful mitzvah. We can’t wait to see what you build!