Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

Sukkot prep

The sukkah is built, and even partially furnished. We use an EZ-Lock sukkah - a fairly well-designed tent-like structure. We build a 6x8ftx7ft box out of rectangular metal pipes, which are designed to lock together in a certain way. It's possible to do it incorrectly, but the instructions are easy to follow.
The trick is twofold. 1. Start with a corner, locking three pieces - an 8ft length, a six foot length and a 7 ft riser. 2. Make sure the riser is correctly oriented - there are locks for cross pieces, and they should be in the lower half. Then you lock in the remaining risers, creating a rectangle, then you do the top portion, to make it a box. Finally, you add the three cross pieces, which makes it sturdy. We did note that one of the lengths was missing the rubber pad to give it friction and fit, but as it was a bottom piece, we could make a shim out of old tape, and it worked just fine.

The only tool needed was a rubber mallet (and Jonathan hanging off the top lengths.) Then we wrapped the walls (made of heavy-duty tent nylon) around the box, fastening them with ties and velcro. I have a feeling most people would be fine with only fastening the one side that needed fastening and the top velcro tabs, but we're completists, so we velcroed the bottom and middle tabs as well. We pulled in the worklight, and then put on the wooden beams and rolled on the sgach. Sgach can be any natural plant material. Many people use evergreen branches, or even beach grass. Others use bamboo poles, and many use a mixture. Our "kit" came with a bamboo/reed mat made according to halachic standards (no metal used in the manufacture.) We just roll it out on top. We do tie it down, although I suspect weights would work as well.

Jonathan decorated the inside with some of the mylar and plastic ornaments and garlands that came with the kit, plus two photographs - one of Rav Kook and one of Rav Soleveitchek. We do not decorate the outside of the sukkah, although some people do hang a "baruch haba" ("welcome") sign over the entrance, and our neighbors have a scavenged "for sale" sign on theirs.

Sukkot come in so many forms, and while some people were organized enough to build theirs during the last nice day before all the rains, many built them today, very grateful for the nice, dry day. Our landlady's sons built theirs last night (well, they put up the walls. They're going away for yom tov, so they'll wait for the s'gach.)

I love seeing them go up in driveways (one driveway has two *huge* sukkot attached to the opposite side doors.) and balconies, carefully arranged so that no other balcony is shading the sukkah, and front and back yards, and decks. Some are made of fiberglass and others of galvanized plastic, and there's the traditional wooden panels (you see the framing on the outside) and canvas or nylon tends, like ours. And there's even the "shlak" - blue plastic tarpalins on plain wooden frames.

There are signs put up by high school boys offering their (paid) services to build sukkot. It's a mitzvah to eat and live in them; it's not a mitzvah to build them. All up and down Coney Island Avenue, there are temporary stores that sell sukkot and decorations (lights, plastic fruit, garlands, posters) for the inside of the sukkot, plus the four species (citron, willow branch, myrtle and palm) that we wave. This, with the decoration and the building and the paraphenalia, is the holiday that's closest, I think, to the American Christmas celebration. It's certainly one of our most joyful, full of singing and dancing, while people go "sukkah hopping" - visiting the sukkot of friends and neighbors and getting a shot of schnapps or vodka. And since we're all outside in these flimsy little houses, it feels like we're all together. And yet all the beauty is inside, for those inside the sukkot.

I've even seen one that was decorated as a dining room - white plaster-board walls, white lace tablecloth, and close enough to the kitchen door that they use real china (I've caught glimpses.) We use plastic and paper, of course, since we live on the second floor but our sukkah is in the backyard. I use normal stainless flatware, but that's easy to carry up and down.

And shopping today was an experience. Note - it took 45 minutes to put up our sukkah complete to sgach. It took that long for me to shop, and most of that was on line. But that also makes sense. It's exactly like the day before Thanksgiving, with the added pressure of building the shack *and* the need to make up to four big meals as much in advance as possible. So the store was crowded.

I love it all.
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