under a very large sukkah, shere raises her hands up as she leads a circle of people in prayer
Kohenet (Hebrew priestess) Taya Shere of Berkeley leads a Shabbat morning service at Wilderness Torah's 2016 Sukkot on the Farm. (Photo/David A.M. Wilensky)

Wilderness Torah’s signature Sukkot festival returns in October

Wilderness Torah’s oldest event, a multi-day Sukkot gathering in nature, is returning this fall after a years-long hiatus. Formerly called Sukkot on the Farm, now called the Sukkot In-Gathering Festival, it will take place Oct. 13-17 near Sebastopol (with exact directions provided upon registration) on a site that allows for both camping and indoor accommodations for the four nights.

Sukkot, one of Judaism’s three agriculturally linked pilgrimage festivals, traditionally is marked by sleeping and eating outdoors in temporary structures, giving thanks for the harvest and praying for rain — a perfect holiday for Wilderness Torah, which promotes Earth-based Judaism, seeking to ground contemporary Judaism in nature and the environment.

The theme will be “Hakhel: Building Resilient Community” and will the event will celebrate the end of the shmita year and the beginning of a new seven-year Jewish agricultural cycle.

Other hallmarks of the event include all-ages programming, hearty vegetarian meals, workshops, dancing and music and a raucous version of Hoshana Rabbah, the elaborate prayer for rain ritual that ends Sukkot.

Returning to a multi-day Sukkot event brings Berkeley-based Wilderness Torah full circle; the first Sukkot on the Farm was held in 2007 at Eatwell Farm outside Dixon, near UC Davis, and eventually led to the founding of Wilderness Torah as an independent organization in 2009.

The weekend is free for kids up to age 5 and $445 for adults, with a 20% early-bird discount available through the end of August. More information is available at wildernesstorah.org/sukkot-in-gathering.

David A.M. Wilensky
David A.M. Wilensky

David A.M. Wilensky is director of news product at J. He previously served as assistant editor and digital editor. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @davidamwilensky