It is the festival of exile. I know the notion of wandering and of a temporary home is built into the very idea of Succot, but that's not what I mean. Rather, it's the weather. The prospect of eating and sleeping outdoors, with only the slimmest canopy of leaves between you and the stars - and doing that in October - makes no sense in most parts of the world where Jews live. It's a stiff test of endurance in Stamford Hill or Brooklyn.
But there's one place where it feels easy and comfortable: Israel. Which is why Succot is a reminder that the Jewish calendar is designed for collective life in a specific terrain, the place where most Jews still don't live.
Not for the first time, Succot has seemed to bring a change in the weather and the start of autumn. Which prompted, perhaps inevitably, a last, lingering look back at the summer. I've been thinking in particular about my summer holiday.
It was in Greece, a week on an island, another week in the mountains and forests of the north. Perhaps it's my own lack of imagination, but the place kept reminding me of somewhere else. The heat, the dusty roadsides, the sparkling Mediterranean, the salads: it was, I decided, Israel without the conflict.
It's a thought that carries more than a tinge of melancholy. In Amos Oz's magnificent tour of his country, In the Land of Israel, the novelist visits the modest port town of Ashdod. He sees families out for a stroll, kids licking ice creams, a few pensioners listening to folk melodies and, for a moment, he allows himself to think that this might be Israel's future.
A modest, unspectacular place - not too different from, say, Portugal or even Greece - where people are allowed to live out calm lives in the sunshine. The melancholy comes when you remember that Oz wrote that book more than 30 years ago.
The Greek economy may be battered, but the country is not at war. Ashdod and Israel are not so lucky.
Which is perhaps why so many Israelis flock to Greece on holiday: it has the lure of home, without the grief. I overheard Hebrew again and again during those two August weeks, as the war in Gaza wound down. On one rafting trip, our little dinghy was shared with an Israeli family. In amateurish Hebrew, I struck up a conversation with the father.
He was obviously surprised, then admitted that they had not exactly been advertising their nationality on this vacation. "You don't know what people are going to think of Israel," he said ruefully.
I've heard of Israelis who try to pose as generic Mediterraneans or even Scandinavians, rather than risk the ire of those hostile to their country. And this, too, is melancholy.
Philip Roth has written of the British Jewish habit of dropping the volume when uttering the word "Jew" in public places. It's meant as a classic marker, and failing, of diaspora life: the embarrassment, or even shame, of one who is not fully accepted.
And yet this is felt not only by Jews in exile but by the Jews of Zion, at least when outside their country. The Zionist revolution was meant to change all that. Its goal was not to liberate land, but to liberate people - the Jewish people.
And yet I can't help but reflect on how incomplete that revolution remains. Israel's borders remain unfixed, the land is not at peace, its people cannot state their collective name out loud without fear.
What the Greeks, and nearly everyone else, take for granted, is still out of reach.