On a Saturday evening during Sukkot, two households opened their home sukkahs for a congregational “sukkah schlep” – essentially a progressive dinner in two sukkahs. Participants traveled in a small bus from the congregation to each of the homes and then back to the synagogue, with music and singing on the bus. Dinner was served at the first sukkah, and there was dessert and Havdalah at the second. Both homes featured schmoozing, singing and shaking the lulav. The program was successful because it was unusual (many people have never built their own sukkah or been to a home sukkah) and because people in our congregation love celebrating Havdalah together. The promise of great food was also important.
Congregants who do not normally celebrate Sukkot in any way, particularly those without children at home, took part in the holiday rituals with other members of the community. Because the Schlep takes place in the evening and because we have two other family- and youth-oriented Sukkot events, the Sukkah Schlep draws mostly an adult crowd, with a nice mix of couples and singles participating. People had the opportunity to socialize in a new setting; many found it magical to be outdoors on a fall evening. The Membership Committee, which planned the event, had a successful program at relatively low cost and with relatively few volunteer hours.
The major costs for this program are bus rental, food and drink. We were able to secure a small bus from a community center for a low price, and the dinner menu was inexpensive: Vegetarian chili and salads. We charged $15/person, which was enough to cover all costs. The bus is key to the success of the evening. Our organizers feel the program would not be nearly as much fun if people drove separately to the homes.