The Shmooze

Cruise Into Drive-Through Sukkah

By Julie Wiener


(JTA) — For those on-the-go types who prefer to travel through, rather than live in, their (very) temporary dwelling, there’s a new option: the drive-thru sukkah.

Following the lead of Miami’s Bet Shira Congregation — which in 2009 opened what is believed to be the first drive-thru sukkah — a suburban Philadelphia synagogue is this year touting its own car-friendly booth.

Har Zion Temple, which, like Bet Shira, is Conservative, is inviting motorists to stop in throughout the holiday (on yom tov as well as hol hamoed) and say the blessing over the lulav and etrog. The drive-thru is in addition to a more traditional and, er, pedestrian sukkah on the other side of the synagogue.

Gavi Miller, the shul’s executive director, told JTA that drivers are welcome to bring the lulav and etrog into their car or to step outside and do the blessing. “The idea is to reach out to people where they are,” he said.

“This is another way to make the holiday a little more accessible,” he added. “Lots of people have memories of Passover seders, Chanukah and Rosh Hashanah, but some don’t have Sukkot memories.”

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Three Wheels and a Sukkah

By Raffi Wineburg

(JTA) — The holiday of Sukkot commands Jews to live in “booths” — commemorating the temporary dwellings their ancestors inhabited while wandering the desert for 40 years. Though many Manhattan apartments measure only slightly larger than those original booths, unless the apartment roof is retrofitted with twigs from Central Park, it doesn’t quite qualify as a sukkah.

Thankfully, one Brooklyn yeshiva student with the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic sect, has taken it upon himself to ensure that all New Yorkers can experience the holiday.

Levi Duchman, 21, is the inventor of the pedi-sukkah, a rickshaw bicycle with a mobile sukkah attached to the back. While small, each sukkah meets all the halachic requirements. During the days before Sukkot and during Hol Hamoed, Duchman says he spends 12 hours a day on the pedi-sukkah, pedaling around Brooklyn and Manhattan, and letting New Yorkers step inside to say a blessing.

“It’s the best thing to see people’s reactions, and to give people in New York the opportunity to get involved with the holiday,” Duchman said. “We get a lot of smiles and pictures, and lot of positivity, even from the police.”

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A Fashionista Sukkah

By Lucy Blatter

Courtesy of Elie Tahari and Joey Allaham

Observant Jews were pretty peeved when New York Fashion Week fell at the exact same time as Rosh Hashanah this year. But fast forward two weeks, and one member of the fashion elite is actually making religious observance easier, and more fashionable.

Israeli-born fashion designer Elie Tahari has partnered with Joey Allaham, owner of Prime Hospitality, a group that includes Prime Grill, Prime KO and Prime at the Bentley, to create a large sukkah on the ground floor of the Bentley Hotel on the Upper East Side. Madonna recently made an appearance at the kosher hotspot, where she attended a Sukkot celebration in memory of Rabbi Philip Berg, her kabbalah mentor who passed away last week.

Tahari’s sukkah seats 600 people.

According to a representative from Prime Hospitality, Tahari approached Allaham to work with the Kaballah Center and create a “Sukkah for Peace.” The holiday coincidentally falls during the U.N. General assembly, and presents an opportunity for leaders from around the world to enjoy the space and the food.

A la carte dining from Prime at the Bentley, as well as barbecue and a beer garden is available in the Sukkah on today and tomorrow. The sukkah will be open to the public, but outside food is not allowed.

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More Lulav Fraud!

By Nathan Jeffay

How naïve we were! Last week, we reported with some surprise, revelations that black market lulavs were being smuggled into Israel. Now, it seems that lulav fraud doesn’t stop with smuggling.

The Chief Rabbinate has put out notices in synagogues and public locations warning people to beware of lulavs whose tips have become split and which have subsequently been glued together. Rabbis differ on whether such a lulav may be used to recite the lulav blessing on Sukkot, as required by Jewish law.

The Chief Rabbinate’s notices say that if traders are selling “glued” lulavs, they can’t pass them off as normal ones as they currently do, and must make “full disclosure” to customers. Read about the warning here.

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