The Sukkah has some basic requirements but beyond these rules, its construction and decoration is left to one’s imagination and creativity.
The rules are: A Sukkah…
1. Must be built under the open sky (i.e. not under a tree or inside a larger room.
2. Usually consists of 4 walls but to be “kosher”, two walls and part of a third are actually sufficient.
3. Should be made to sturdy enough to withstand “normal” weather conditions yet they remain fragile structures.
4. May not be more than 30 feet high nor should it be less than 3 feet high
5. May not be shaped like a teepee because a Sukkah must have a roof
The roof of the Sukkah (call s’khach):
1. Must be made from material that grew from the ground but which is not still attached to the ground. Bamboo or branches of a palm tree – which is very popular in Israel – may be used. Vines, still attached to the ground may not.
2. Must not be susceptible to “ritual impurity”. These would include materials such as metal, cloth, the hide of an animal.
NOTE: While grass or leaves may fit the above requirements, they are not considered suitable since they would dry out too quickly and become unattractive.
3. The density of the roof, is also an important consideration. The roof (s’khach) should not be so dense that one cannot see the sky during the day or the stars at night. On the other hand, the s’khach should not be so loosely layered so that the amount of light shining into the sukkah exceeds the amount of the shadows cast.
It is customary to decorate the Sukkah with postes, drawings, colorful wall hangings, etc. While not technically required, these decorations fall into the category known as “hidur mitzvah”, the rabbinic injunction to make a mitzvah as aesthetically pleasing as possible.