Guest etiquette for Sukkot

Guest etiquette for Sukkot

Keeping up with the Ushpizin

Tami Lancut Leibovitz

Since my childhood, Sukkot has always been a holiday of family and friends in our home, and not only in our home, all over the world and all over Israel. It even has a special term to describe the guests, derived from the Aramaic language for guest – Ushpizin.

What is so special about guests in Sukkot that they received a special term to describe them?

There’s a communal and mystical aspect of the festival of Sukkot that includes inviting guests into our home, including complete strangers that we help preform the mitzvah of sitting and eating in the Sukkah. We wish to fill our Sukkah with guests and the biblical sources provides a specific list about who should be include: men and women, boys and girls, employees, colleagues and workers, widows, and orphans and also the less fortunate among our community or in the words of the Rambam: “When one eats and drinks, one must also feed the stranger, the orphan, the widow, the other unfortunate paupers. But one who locks the doors of his courtyard, and eat and drinks with his children and wife but does not feed the poor and the embittered soul–this is not the joy of a mitzvah…”

Having all those guests from all paths of life also brings us etiquette questions and concerns, how to make everyone as comfortable as can be in our temporary home:

if you come with a large family or group, call ahead to check if they might need extra things that can help your host,

On Sukkot, it’s not a bad idea to bring packaged cakes or bakery items that are sealed. There are 7 days in the Sukkah so your host may wish to serve the dish the next day if the table is already rich and full.

Call or text afterwards to say Thank you! Like you would do in any standard dinner or event you would attend. It’s a great way to make your host feel rewarded and joyous.


With that being said, don’t forget the essence of the holiday - Sukkot is time to see and host people we love and cherish, friends and family, beyond the rules and guidelines, the most important thing is a warm, authentic greeting and treatment throughout the visit.

May we all have a wonderful holiday!

Happy Sukkot Holiday !