Just kidding. This fancy shanty is one of the finalists of Sukkah City, an international sukkah design competition currently being held in NYC’s Union Square Park. Sounds a little like Chabad Meets Burning Man, nu? The winning hut gets to stand all the way through the week of Sukkot, which starts Thursday.
For the new people, a sukkah is a three-walled, open-ceilinged hut built right after the High High Holy Days to commemorate what our ancestors lived in after bailing from Egypt (no cardboard boxes or VW buses back then.) I dig the depth of the definition that Sukkah City gives:
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.
*Sigh*. I’m not even going to pretend the Yentas are putting up our own this year, though El Yenta Man did lend hands to build one at the home synagogue yesterday (and apparently climbed a ladder, an act that shows his true dedication to Judaism as he his fear of heights is second only to his aversion to construction paper chains.)
As the trees begin to let go of their leaves and the air loses its hot summer grip, my children get taller and my hair gets grayer and my mother-in-law transitions further into the recesses of what’s left of her mind, the stress of wielding tools to honor the impermanence of life seems redundant and unnecessary.
As much as I would love to have a designer sukkah in my backyarden to give thanks for the bounty of okra, peppers and eggplants, we’ll have to make do with a communal rituals and our favorite striped blanket under the crape myrtle tree.
But next year, I’ma show up all these fancy shanties by making something craaaazy out of kudzo and chicken wire.