I didn’t really like Sukkah City

As far as I can tell, the only relatively negative coverage so far of Sukkah City has been at New Voices. Our slideshow, embedded below, has a few comments from me thrown in. Overall, I disliked Sukkah City because it made Judaism a conceptual abstraction. No one can enter or try to use the sukkot on display, which shows a basic failure to grasp the concept of the sukkah on the part of the exhibition itself.

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7 responses to “I didn’t really like Sukkah City

  1. I think Jenny captures the spirit of the display fairly well. One of the things Reform does, and sometimes well, is repurposing old rituals to fit new needs. If you’ve seen the Sukkot posts on the RJ blog, you’ll see a not-so-hidden agenda to establish the kind of sentimental attachment to decorating a home sukkah that used to be attached, even in many Jewish households, to trimming a tree. Just as there are typically no gifts piled up under the municipal tree, so there are no meals in the municipal sukkah. Actually, I think Chabad builds a sukkah at City Hall in Chicago, and the Federation had one on the exterior of its building when it was free-standing — now that it is in an office tower, that may not be the case. But those downtown sukkot have always been available for entry.

    Even if the execution leaves something to be desired, giving the holiday a mainstream boost seems commendable. To quote what I often quote, keep your eye on the donut and not the hole.

  2. I think you may havae missed out on some of the sukkot… You could definitely go inside some of them and use them as intended…

    As well, the entire point of the project, as i understand it, was to take these “abstract” concepts (homelessness, for example) and turn them into tangible expressions of Judaism.

    I for one was very impressed and moved by the sukkah made from cardboard boxes, as if to suggest a shelter made by a homeless person. Doesn’t this “abstraction” perfectly grasp the meaning of sukkot? That we were once without a home and were wanderers and we have a duty to remember that as a people?

    • If you read the slides, I liked the homeless one.

      And something must have changed between the first day, when I was there, and when you went. All of them were roped off and there were just crowds buzzing around them, unable to enter them.

  3. Ploni א: Come eat by me on Shabbos.
    Ploni ב: I’d love to!
    Ploni א: Are you OK with cats?
    Ploni ב: No, they make me swell up and die.
    Ploni א: Well, OK then, maybe at Sukkos?
    Ploni ב: Sounds great!

    • Did this happen? It’s hilarious.

      • Actually we do have a friend who has declined dinner with us on account of the cats. It only occurred to me after the chag that Sukkot would be a good time to have her over, and she was the inspiration for the snippet above, though that dialogue remains hypothetical. Mostly, it’s my counter to Jenny’s comment on the irrationality of Sukkot on slide 9. A little hut where people who can’t come inside can be fed and entertained? Cool.

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