Sukkot 5780

Two Minutes of Torah with Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky

You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths.

—Leviticus 23:42

I found instructions online and we can get the materials at a hardware store. How bad could it be?

—My family

Jews have constructed sukkot for thousands of years. They were discussed in the Torah and usedthroughout the Temple periods in Jerusalem. Today they  are widely available for purchase online in “pop up” and “E-Z” varieties. A quick search for “sukkah” on Amazon yielded 521 results, ranging from sukkah-building kits to sukkah decorations to a t-shirt that says “I’d rather be sitting in my sukkah. #FeastofTabernacles.” There’s a carry-on sukkah -- including a kosher bamboo mat for the roof – that can be set up in five to ten minutes and sukkotcomplete with plastic windows, reinforced canvas and plastic sides, click together poles, and murals painted on the sides, all available for sale at several online shops, shipped right to your front door.

Not my front door, however. This year is not only my first at the JCRC, it’s the first time my family is living outside Manhattan and we finally have our own space to build a sukkah. We tried the DIY – do it yourself – approach, building a sukkahfrom scratch using internet instructions. My husband took the lead in the design, engineering, construction, and trips to the hardware store. As of two hours before Sukkot, he was on his fourth trip in four days.

Our sukkah is not perfect. It is not as sturdy as the ones bought online, and after the first two days of Sukkot, it’s leaning to one side and half of the wood beams and cornstalks used for the skach, the “not really a roof” of the sukkah, are falling down. But it’s ours and each person in our family, including our kids, helped build it. We are delighting in eating our meals in our sukkah, enjoying the cool night air and the joy that comes with sitting in one’s own perfectly imperfect sukkah.