Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah


Sukkot begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, in September or October. Sukkot 2021 begins at sundown on Monday, September 20. Shmini Atzeret (and Simchat Torah in some communities) begins at sundown on Monday, September 27. Communities that celebrate Simchat Torah seperate from Shmini Atzeret will observe this additional day of holiday beginning in the evening on Tuesday, September 28 and concluding in the evening on Wednesday, September 29.


Sukkot, the Festival of Booths, commemorates the Biblical period of wandering in the desert. A temporary shelter (a sukkah) is built outside the home and used to take meals and even sleep in it for the duration of the one-week holiday. The "eighth day" of Sukkot, known as Shmini Atzeret, can be considered a separate holiday. It marks the beginning of the rainy season in Israel and the year's first prayer for rain, so that the ground might be prepared for planting when springtime arrives.


The sukkah has at least three sides, and the roof is made of branches called schach that provide shade during the day yet also allow people to see the stars through them at night. Meals in the sukkah are often shared with family and friends — and through a welcoming ceremony called ushpizin, Biblical ancestors are symbolically invited in as well. Sukkot is also a harvest festival, which in ancient times involved a pilgrimage to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. To give thanks for the harvest bounty, particularly that of the Land of Israel, four plant species are held together and waved in the air: lulav (palm), etrog (citron), hadas (myrtle) and arava (willow).


Simchat Torah celebrates the completion of one year's cycle of weekly Torah readings during Shabbat services and the beginning of another. Synagogues' Torah scrolls are brought out to the congregation for singing and dancing, which sometimes spills into the street outside. Some unroll an entire Torah scroll while the congregation stands in a circle and holds it. The last Torah portion is read as many times as necessary so that all those who wish to can be honored with an aliyah, an opportunity to say a blessing before and after the Torah reading.

Chabad Center for Jewish Life: Orthodox | 2640 W. 96th St., Carmel | 317-251-5573 | |

Congregation Beth-El Zedeck: Reconstructionist/Conservative | 600 W. 70th St., Indianapolis | 317-253-3441 | |

Congregation Beth Shalom: Reform | 849 W. 96th St., Indianapolis | 317-306-5644 | |

Congregation B'nai Torah: Orthodox | 6510 Hoover Rd., Indianapolis | 317-253-5253 | |

Congregation Shaarey Tefilla: Conservative | 3085 W. 116th St., Carmel | 317-733-2169 | |

Etz Chaim Sephardic Congregation: Sephardic Orthodox | 6939 Hoover Rd., Indianapolis | 317-251-6220 | |

Humanistic Judaism: 317-721-2747 |

Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation: Reform | 6501 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis | 317-255-6647 | |

Temple B'nai Israel: Reform | 618 W. Superior St., Kokomo | 765-452-0383 |

Sukkot (Festival of Booths)

 Beth-El Zedeck

Monday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m.

Erev Sukkot – Sukkot Service and Family Festival (Sukkah and Uncle Davy’s Cabin)

In person (purchase tickets at

Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 10 a.m.

Sukkot Festival Service

In person (purchase tickets at

Monday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.

Consencration and Simchat Celebration

In person (purchase tickets at

Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 10 a.m.

Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah & Yizkor Service

In person (purchase tickets at

Beth Shalom

Friday, Sept. 24 6:30 pm

Shabbat Service during Sukkot

In person in the CBS Sukkah

B'Nai Torah

Tuesday, Sept. 21 and Wednesday, Sept. 22

Shacharis - 9 a.m.; Mincha - 7:30 p.m.

In person

Tuesday, Sept. 28

Shemini Atzeret: Shacharis - 9 a.m.; Mincha/Maariv/Hakafos: 7:30 p.m.

In person

Wednesday, Sept. 29

Simchat Torah: Shacharis 8:45 a.m.; Mincha 7:20 p.m.

In person





Etz Chaim

10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 20

Sukkah Building & Kids’ Decorating Activity

In person

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21 and Wednesday Sept. 22

Evening Service and Mincha

In person

See right

Shacharit 9 a.m.; Mincha: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21 and Wednesday, Sept. 22

In person

6 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 26


In person

7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26

Evening Services

In person

11 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26

All Night Study

In person

7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27

Evening Service and Mincha

In person

See right

Shacharit: 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Mincha Tuesday, Sept. 28 and Wednesday, Sept. 29 in person

In person


Thursday, Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m.

Sisterhood’s Sisters in the Sukkah

In person

Sunday, Sept. 26; 12 - 1:30 p.m.

Sukkot Celebration

, In person with advance registration, Facebook live: @IhcIndy or on WICR 88.7-FM

Monday, Sept. 27 at 10:30 a.m.

Festival Yizkor Service

, In person with advance registration, Facebook live: @IhcIndy or on WICR 88.7-FM

Monday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.

Erev Simchat Torah and Consecration Service

In person with advance registration, Facebook live: @IhcIndy or on WICR 88.7-FM

Shaarey Tefilla

6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20

Erev Sukkot Mincha/Maariv

In person

: 8 – 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21

Sukkot First Day Shacharit

In person

8 – 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22

Sukkot Second Day Shacharit

In person

6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27

Erev Shemini Atzeret Mincha/Maariv

In person

8 – 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28

Shemini Atzeret/Yizkor Shacharit

In person

: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28

Shemini Atzeret Mincha

In person

7 – 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28

Simchat Torah Maariv

In person

8 – 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29

Simchat Torah Shacharit

In person

Online Holiday Resources & Opportunities:




Outdoor Family Sukkot Experience

1112 Oakwood Trail
Indianapolis, IN 46260



Sukkot Service at CBS

Congregation Beth Shalom 849 W. 96th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46260



CST Sisterhood Havdalah Wine & Cheese in the Sukkah

Congregation Shaarey Tefilla 3085 W 116th Street
Carmel, IN 46032

Pj Library offers a great selection of family-friendly sukkot resources including holiday themed book for school-aged children, at-home craft projects, and recipes for fun snacks for the sukkah.

Add a bit of Yisraeli-ut (Israeliness) to your holiday experience and explore the different names of Sukkot in Hebrew with this resource from the iCenter. Be sure to check out their full range of Sukkot resources.

Looking for a meaningful way to decorate a Sukkah? HIAS offers posters highlighting the narrative of eight refugees and displaced persons to hang in your sukkah as Jews recreate the experience of Israelites finding refuge after escaping salvery in Egypt.

Be'chol Lashon, an organization raising awareness about ethnic, racial and cultural diversity of Jewish identity and experience, has compiled a variety of stories, recipes, and articles to enhance your Sukkot

From the Orthodox Union, enjoy learning opportunities with the "Chag at Home" hub. This resource offerings video lessons and holiday explanations as well as reading materials to enjoy.

Ritualwell, an initiative of Reconstructing Judaism, offers a wide variety of DIY rituals and original poetry and blogs to enhance your Sukkot holiday.

From four USYers, check out their favorite Sukkot traditions and maybe find something new to add to your own Sukkot experience.

The Union for Reform Judaism offers a library of Sukkot resources including family activities, recipes, and holiday explainers to make this Sukkot special.