Having just moved to Newton, we’re renting a townhouse while getting to know the area, and our landlord is resistant to our squatting on the lawn in a ramshackle hut for 7 days.  The fact that I’m not armed with cordless drill, hammer, and nails this year has left me time to step back and admire how others tackle this holy construction project.  It also has left me time enough to open even non-essential emails (a blessed indulgence!), which is how I came across Sukkah City.

Sukkah City, sponsored by Reboot, is an international Sukkah-building competition.  Artists and architects submitted designs of sukkot and the 12 finalists constructed and displayed their sukkot in NYC’s Union Square for all to see.  One winning team will have its sukkah displayed throughout the Sukkot holiday.  What I found moving about the competition, besides the pictures of these holy works of art, was what artists and architects wrote about their sukkot designs:

Henry Grosman and Babak Bryan — creators of the finalist ”Fractured Bubble” Sukkah: “The sukkah is a bubble: ephemeral and transient. It separates inside from outside with a thin, permeable membrane. Outside is the world of everyday life. Inside one gathers with loved ones. Together you look out to the world to find it fresh again, transformed.”

Dale Suttle, So Sugita, and Ginna Nguyen — creators of the finalist “Gathering” Sukkah:“For forty years, the Israelites wandered the desert. They found rest from their wandering, communing with one another in shelters built of brush and trees. The city is similar. We wander its streets and get lost in its chaos. In the city we search for our own trees and our own temporary moments of urban intimacy. And whether wandering through the desert for forty years or through the city for a day, all people desire respite. The Sukkah is an icon for this relief from transience…” 

The Sukkot we build this year (or next, b’ezrat Hashem) may not compare in creativity with these visual masterpieces, but to build any sukkah, even a simple, unadorned one in a suburban backyard, is a work of spiritual beauty, an attempt to outline a cube’s worth of sacred space and there to commune with each other and our Creator.  In my opinion, every sukkah deserves a prize.