Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Urban Sukkot

I learned from my friend Michelle, who is not Jewish, that today marks the beginning of the holiday Sukkot.

I remember this holiday as being one of my favorites when I had to suffer through Saturday mornings at what was ironically referred to as "Sunday School. "

I think what I loved was that for one day we got to go outside and crawl inside a damp, green, earthy smelling structure full of harvest fruits and vegetables. To me we were celebrating the change of seasons.

As I sat cross-legged inside the sukkah with my classmates we would share a snack of apples, sing and tell stories.

What I learned as an adult was that Sukkot was the temporary shelters that the jews lived in durning their exodus from Egypt 3000 years ago.  Each fall this is memorialized as a week long harvest festival.  This year it begins today.

 With so much emphasis on how we live today it is no surprise that an international design competition in has been created around Sukkot.  Aptly named: Sukkah City.

The competition re-imagines the ancient temporary dwelling in an urban setting.  The rules are a contemplative read creating some interesting constraints for the designers.  One stating :The roof cannot be made of food, but can be made of almost anything that grows. While another states A whale may be used to make a sukkah.   (This last one taken from ancient historical texts.)

 Twelve finalists were chosen by a jury of architects,designers and critics.  They will get  to construct their designs in an imaginary village in Union Square.   One of which was chosen to stand as the Peoples' Choice Sukkah of NewYork City.  Next year the festival will expand to cities around the world.

Check out some of the entries and winners

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