Need a sukkah for Sukkot?
Rabbi Shloime Greene has you covered.
Sukkot falls after the Jewish new year to celebrate togetherness and the harvest, and to commemorate Jews’ nomadic life following the exodus from Egypt.
Jews observing the holiday build outdoor huts called sukkah and eat their meals in the sukkah during the weeklong observances.
For people who weren’t able to erect a sukkah and because gathering in large groups in other people’s sukkot (plural of sukkah) is not advised, Greene has a creative solution — a portable pedi sukkah. The fabric sukkah with a metal frame is attached to a bicycle hitch, creating a mobile hut.
It’s workable, but not very practical, he said.
“It does the job,” Greene said. “It’s not easy to bike, and I definitely can’t go to Northwest Rochester with it.”
Many holidays are going to look different this year, but the Jewish observances of Sukkot seems tailor-made for pandemic precautions.
Eating outdoors seems like a good way to avoid risks associated with contracting COVID-19. However, leaders of the Chabad of Southeast Minnesota, which usually hosts Jews in their sukkah during the observances, have shied away from having people dine in close quarters, even in a temporary outdoor enclosure.
“Normally it’s open to all,” Greene said. “But we can’t do that this year.”
Instead, Chabbad hosted a speedy Sukkah meal Wednesday night. People signed up for time slots to avoid crowding, wore their masks, and picked up their meals from inside the sukkah.
Lois Heeringa, who worked downtown before the COVID-19 pandemic, now works from home. In previous years, she would have had lunch in the Chabad sukkah. This year, she built her own on her back patio from a camping shower. She draped a bamboo mat over the top for some shelter and shade.
It was the first time she erected a sukkah, she said.
While effective, it lacks the togetherness the holiday is intended to engender. That’s why she went to the speedy sukkah event Wednesday.
“I like this,” she said. “Everyone’s doing it in their own way right now; it makes me feel connected to everything that’s gone on for all those centuries.”
Zachi Attia, who is from Israel, said he and his family have observed health department recommendations and don’t leave the house unless it’s necessary. He said connecting with the Jewish community and observing Sukkot on Wednesday was a necessary trip.
“It gives you a taste of home,” he said.
Michal Shelly, who is also from Israel, agreed that communal observances were comforting and added that she wanted her kids to see and learn Sukkot traditions.
Following, Sukkot Chabad will outdoor observance of Simchat Torah Sunday.