Sukkah Hopping

schach of a sukkah
We have a tradition for this holiday of Sukkot called “sukkah hopping”. If I did this as a child, it was probably in a more formal way, with an official invitation to visit someone else’s sukkah. Basically, children visit other sukkot, have something to eat, and move on to the next sukkah. If the children are young, they are accompanied by adults; by age ten, they go with their friends.

Here’s the custom as I would like it to be:
You visit a sukkah of a friend. You wish the person a happy holiday, and sit down and enjoy one of the treats they have placed for guests in their sukkah. You say the bracha (blessing) on that particular treat, make a little conversation with your host, say “thank you”, and move on to the next sukkah.

Here’s what I have seen:
Children wandering around the neighborhood with bags. Bags! Filled with candy. Sounds a bit like another holiday, not a Jewish one, that is coming in a few weeks?

One of my friends said she has a rule that children must eat whatever they take from her sukkah in her sukkah. No bags. I rather liked that rule. She also tells them, “one candy per child.” Another good rule. I told her I think many parents of this generation have a hard time saying “no” to kids. This is not good for the kids.

Another mother I met told me someone she knew once put only vegetables as treats in her sukkah, then the mother heard children whispering outside her sukkah, “oh, don’t even bother going in there.” You can’t win. Who wants to be the one mom without any junk? (I can’t bring myself to buy candy, so I buy popcorn and pretzels, and I try to make extra desserts. My daughter and I made some ice tea using orange herbal tea bags and sugar — you just leave it in the refrigerator for a few hours to chill and absorb the flavor).

I asked my boys if they have ever taken bags with them, and they said, no, they always eat the food in the sukkah. I told them I was glad to hear that, and they should remember to say thank you to each host. My husband told them not to visit the sukkah of someone they don’t know (because it’s rude). I would make an exception to a family brand-new to the community.

Last night when my daughter was trying to fall asleep she complained her stomach hurt. I said, “well, maybe a little too much junk today. Nothing a good night sleep won’t cure.” It turns out she never had any “real” supper, so I gave her a piece of pizza before bed.

If you do sukkah hopping in your area, would love to hear how it functions. And if you don’t celebrate Sukkot, maybe you can relate to the kids and candy situation?

19 thoughts on “Sukkah Hopping

  • I told her I think many parents of this generation have a hard time saying “no” to kids. An international disease it seems, at least a Western one.
    I am all with you on this issue. I wouldn’t want my kids to get only junk food from other parents and I wouldn’t give only candies either.
    You’re also quite right on the “thank you” issue, I wish more kids (and parents) understood that people actually like nice and polite kids.

  • Hi Leora, I hope your chag was a good one.

    While as a parent I wouldn’t want my kids getting all the extra junk food, I can certainly see how the *kids* might be feeling left out around Halloween and would want a way to score some of that sugar for themselves.

  • Actually, even when I was a child, there were kids who brought bags to collect their “loot”…

    Unfortunately, here in our neighborhood, there are some hostesses who encourage collecting by giving out things like lollipops or individual packages of chips. There’s no way the kids can finish these treats before it’s time to move on to the next succah, and so by the time they’ve visited a few succot,
    the kids have already amassed quite a collection – even without meaning to do so.

    Moadim L’Simchah.

  • Robin, if the public school kids were aware of how much candy the kids in our community get, I think the jealousy would work in reverse. As it is, my kids barely notice Halloween, except for the scary stuff in front of some people’s houses. All the little kids in our neighborhood are Jewish and don’t celebrate Halloween. We didn’t even get trick-or-treaters last year (I buy the candy anyway, just in case).

    ID, thanks for agreeing on “thank you”.
    MiI, yes.

  • Yesterday, at my sister’s house, my daughters and my niece waited for an hour for the sukkah hoppers to show up, but they never did.
    My nephew described sukkah hopping as “a bunch of greedy kids swarm into your sukkah, take all your candy, and leave without saying thank you.” Unfortunately, he’s right. But one year, the school I taught in took the kids sukkah hopping, and it was very different. We made the kids sit in each sukkah that we visited. They had to make a bracha, eat one piece of food, and then listen to a short dvar torah from the host. I’m not sure how much they really enjoyed it, though.

  • I’m not sure how much they really enjoyed it, though.
    Yes, one needs to get that balance between teaching the kids without taking out the fun!

    Two of my son’s friends showed up while we were eating dessert yesterday. My husband offered them both a piece of chocolate cake if they would sit down to eat. And then my husband said, “and give us a d’var Torah.” At “d’var Torah”, the boys started to leave the sukkah. When my husband said, just kidding about the d’var Torah part, one boy willingly sat and ate his cake. His friend (who’s father is a gourmet cook, and I’ve never seen candy in his house) said he only wanted candy.

  • Imagine what it’ll be like for all those kids whose parents couldn’t say “no” when they enter school (poor teachers) and then the work force. LOL!

  • At our shul in Woodmere, NY we had an organized Sukkah hop through the youth department. Bags were outlawed. The kids went to three different Sukkot, by families who had volunteered for this ordeal, sat and listened to a dvar torah. It was controlled but still chaos, and yes, if you put vegetables on the table you were in trouble. We hosted one year and it was like a plague of locusts came and went. Even with the Dvar Torah, which was endured, not enjoyed, the whole swarm took about 4 minutes. Not that I was sorry to see the little piranhas go.

  • When I was in NCSY one of our favorite activities was the “Progressive Sukkah lunch.” It took a while for me to recall the name! Each family would serve a different course. At one family we would wash and have a main course, but I don’t remember details. One would serve fish, one dessert, and of course there were divrei torah. For some reason it got too hard to organize and we stopped having them. I remember about six to ten kids participating–this was “out of town.”

  • Progressive Sukkah lunch
    Love the name…nowadays when I hear “progressive”, I automatically respond “progressing toward what?”

    I think they had to stop doing those in our town because no one can “officially” trust anyone’s kashrut. And who wants to eat a succession of catered courses? It’s the homemade stuff that’s good.

  • I got this note on Facebook:
    In response to Daniel’s use of the term in your blog: there is a term in the UK called “pub crawling” which is basically “pub hopping” – where a group of regular guys/drunk University students (to be stereotypical hah hah) go to a large number of drinking establishments in one night. I am certain “sukkah crawling” evolved from this phrase. I am not sure why it is termed “crawling” but presumably because by the end of the night you are so drunk you need to “crawl” home!

  • I guess kids of all faiths and persuasions are the same. Or maybe parents don’t always teach and control them. Although I am not Jewish and have never been near this holiday tradition, I am appalled at children taking bags AND at chidlren saying “this is not a good one.” I can promise my children would do neither. Yes, it DOES sound like a non-Jewish holiday coming up. And for that, when my kids go, they go attended not only for safety, but to make sure they are polite and teach them exactly how to be polite.

    Kids NEED someone to say “no” to them!

  • I haven’t seen much sukkah hopping. I never saw the kids bring bags and collect candy.

    I always associate Simchas Torah as the candy day. I was amazed at how many mothers didn’t want their kids to eat junk food in shul. When they were giving out Mondos, one mother said her kid never had one before and she doesn’t want them to start on it.

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