• Steven Heller

Never Give a Sukkah an Even Break

What is a sukkah? No, it’s not one that’s born every minute. It is a makeshift structure erected in the fall to commemorate the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot. This year, starting in July, New York is hosting a juried international Sukkah competition called Sukkah City conceived by Joshua Foer and Reboot, a nonprofit organization aimed at reinventing the traditions and rituals of Judaism for today’s secular Jews. Twelve structures will be built around Union Square. Co-founder Roger Bennett notes that the competition will breathe “creativity into a much needed, simple design.” Architects and designers are invited to submit their proposals.

Yet as simple as it is, there are a number of rules each designer must follow, such as: “A whale may be used to make a sukkah’s walls. Also a living elephant”; “The roof cannot be made of utensils, or anything conventionally functional when it is not part of a sukkah”; “A sukkah may be built on top of a camel”; and “At night, one must be able to see the stars from within the sukkah, through the roof.”

More on the Sukkah: “Ostensibly the sukkah’s religious function is to commemorate the temporary structures that the Israelites dwelled in during their exodus from Egypt, but it is also about universal ideas of transience and permanence as expressed in architecture. The sukkah is a means of ceremonially practicing homelessness, while at the same time remaining deeply rooted. It calls on us to acknowledge the changing of the seasons, to reconnect with an agricultural past, and to take a moment to dwell on, and dwell in, impermanence.”

Photo courtesy of www.siegersukkah.com