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New York - Creative 'Sukkas' Talent: Architects, Designers In International Competition

Published on: September 13, 2010 11:31 AM
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One of the sukkah competingOne of the sukkah competing

New York - As the holiday of Sukkot, or the Festival of Booths, approaches, a design contest in New York City is determined to reinvent the traditional Jewish booth-like sukkah structure. Joshua Foer and Roger Bennett of the cultural organization, Reboot, launched the architectural contest in May 2010, inviting architects and creative minds alike to enter with their vision of a modern interpretation of the sukkah.

The contest was judged by celebrity names in the architectural world and inspired 600 entries, some from the biggest architectural firms around the world, interested in getting publicity for their creative talent. The 12 finalists will build their sukkah in Union Square Park in New York City September 19-21, and the final winner’‘s sukkah will remain standing throughout the Sukkot holiday.

Grounded by the many rules and regulations of building a sukkah found in Jewish law, contestants will have to think outside the box (get it?) to come up with a creative design. However, design philosophy and Jewish law have more in common than you might think – since both strive on finding creative solutions within strict parameters.


Click here  to see a slide show of the many Sukkas

Many designers were challenged by the complex and sometimes odd-sounding requirements of a sukkah. The contest’‘s website, www.sukkahcity.com,  pictorially displays many of the specifications – there must be more shade than sunlight, at least 2 and a half walls, and organic materials to cover the roof. The website also shares fun, little known sukkah facts - one side can be made of a living elephant (!) and you can even build it on top of a camel or a boat. You’‘ll thank me the next time someone wants to build a sukkah on top of a horse (crazy talk!) Well, at least the biblical handbreadths and cubits have been translated into modern day measurements of feet and inches. But even these measurements were further constricted by New York’‘s limitations of what denotes a temporary structure on public property.

One entry that caught my eye was from Adam Baruchowitz, founder of Wearable Collections, who gathered second-hand raincoats for use in building his sukkah. Since the sukkah can be made of recycled materials, it inspired many sustainable and green designs, and will hopefully spark conversations about environmental awareness in building projects.

Stop by Union Square Park September 19-21 to see the structures from the finalists and vote for your favorite one.

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Read Comments (16)  —  Post Yours »


 Sep 13, 2010 at 11:41 AM frumfrombp Says:

I hate when they take holy jewish mitzvohs and make it into some stupid contest. This is something serious and we dont need all this publicity about it


 Sep 13, 2010 at 12:12 PM UseYourHead Says:

Reply to #1  
frumfrombp Says:

I hate when they take holy jewish mitzvohs and make it into some stupid contest. This is something serious and we dont need all this publicity about it

So I take it you are also opposed to learning contests (who can learn the most time, do the best on an exam, etc.) and brachos bees found in virtually every Jewish school? Get over it. I think this is a major Kiddush Hashem, as it informs the world about Hashem's commandments and shows how much detail and care we put into the performance of mitzvos.


 Sep 13, 2010 at 12:23 PM The_Truth Says:

This is so neat!
There is no reason for people to remain in the 'box' - think outside of it for once!
It not only gives a renewed awareness to Yiddishkeit to those who are less affiliated, it also gives a great positive view of Yiddishkeit to our gentile neighbors who usually like to deride our mitzvos or cause us hassle.


 Sep 13, 2010 at 12:45 PM Tuvia Says:

I think this is awesome... however, someone needs to sit these architects down and show them the halacha. The stuff they are making is cute, but isn't anything close to sukkos (i.e. 95% don't have acceptable schach).


 Sep 13, 2010 at 01:07 PM Anonymous Says:

If we can bring more yidden into the succah on yom tov it would be a bigger mehader mitzvah than agonizing over whether or not the schach is completely in accordance with halacha. Get your nose out of a sefer and focus on the bigger picture of bringing yidden back to yiddeshkeit and not becoming so obcessed with every minute detail of hilchot succos (which is most cases involve minhagim and the views of achronim and is not m'daroisah although the basic mitzvah of sitting is a succah is obviously from the torah).


 Sep 13, 2010 at 02:18 PM Babishka Says:

I have no idea what these things are, but they do not even come close to fulfilling the halachah of Sukkah, plus, can you even imagine how difficult it would be to eat a meal in one of these?

This has nothing whatever to do with bringing Jews back to Yiddishkeit because the artists here are not even Jewish and do not understand the basic concept of Sukkah, they just want to be "cutting edge."

What next, have a convention of florists and horticulturalists design a "new look" for arba minim?


 Sep 13, 2010 at 02:00 PM Anonymous Says:

anything that will bring about good memories about sukkos to kids is good. if the kids who did this contest will grow up remembering sukkos and all those happy memories about the contest, why not? stupid? no no no


 Sep 13, 2010 at 02:33 PM Anonymous Says:

There is no reason to seek approval from the gentiles for our mitzvos, don't have such low self esteem!


 Sep 13, 2010 at 02:48 PM Anonymous Says:

"What next, have a convention of florists and horticulturalists design a "new look" for arba minim?"

Why not. If they can find ways of making the observance of the mitzvah of lulav and esrog more beautiful than coming up with more attractive arrangements for the arba minim would be part of hidur mitzvah. Why do you think some ehrliche yidden pay hudreds of dollars for a upscale esrog from a farm in southern Italy and other nareshkeit like that. In today's word, anything goes as long as there still is some recognizable linkage to what is required by halacha.


 Sep 13, 2010 at 03:51 PM Babishka Says:


The problem is that there is no linkage whatsoever to what is required by halachah. "What's wrong with a new arrangement for arba minim" if they replace the esrog with an avocado, replace the lulav with a carved bamboo stick, replace the aravos with a bunch of cilantro, replace the hadassim with a lemon air freshener.


 Sep 13, 2010 at 04:56 PM Anonymous Says:

To Babishka (No. 10)...its probably too late for this yom tov but perhaps we should get together and discuss converting your ideas for a more contemporary arba minim into a business opportunity for next year....I especially like the cilantro and also know a rav who will provide the hashgacha for the lemon air freshener.


 Sep 13, 2010 at 05:25 PM Anonymous Says:

# 10

Be a little open-minded. It won't hurt you one bit. In fact, it may actually draw some folks who have zero connection to Yiddishkeit a little closer. But I really don't blame you. Your upbringing likely included no experiences that you could drawn upon on how to reach out those who are outside the fold.


 Sep 13, 2010 at 07:00 PM Bigtatty Says:

#1. Stupid contests like mishnayis bal peh? Now that's a stupid contest if I ever heard one. Memorize Hebrew with out the meaning to brag to the kids that don't have as good a memory as you. This feeding frenzy and agenda is pushed by rebbaim too. So sad.


 Sep 13, 2010 at 07:23 PM Babishka Says:

#12 if I had the kind of "upbringing" that you imagine, how would I know what a "cilantro" is?


 Sep 13, 2010 at 08:00 PM harvey Says:

I like that.


 Sep 13, 2010 at 10:26 PM 12345 Says:

Reply to #1  
frumfrombp Says:

I hate when they take holy jewish mitzvohs and make it into some stupid contest. This is something serious and we dont need all this publicity about it

the Sfas Emes says the whole inyan of the Succah is publicizing our devotion to Hashem`s Torah and Mitvos. corrosponding to the karbanos we do for them in the Beis HaMikdash, you might that if you added some Chassidus to your daily learning it may help you to execute Mitvos in a more hiddur fashion.


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