These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Secular Sukkah

Posted on October 30, 2011 by Shibley

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Sukkot has been over for a week and a half, but there is one more element that I observed and would like to share. The secular sukkah. It was not surprising to find sukkot in areas like the ultra-Orthodox Mea She’arim, or even in the more Modern Orthodox/Dati neighborhoods, like the one where I live. What is much more surprising is to find secular Israelis with sukkot of their own. Keep in mind, there is a significant between the religious and secular communities, and building a sukkah is a nod to some sort of religious buy-in. This is not to say that all secular Israelis built a sukkah, but when the schach (roof materials) vendors showed up on street corners, a large percentage of their customers looked to be secular. Sukkot is truly a national celebration in Israel, spanning the spectrum of this diverse country.

On Simchat Torah, I walked past a neighbors home on my way to a meal. He was taking down his sukkah. Obviously a secular Israeli, he also was playing contemporary Israeli music loud enough to be heard through the open windows. While he definitely fulfilled the mitzva of the sukkah from a halachic standpoint, it appeared to me as if he was equally ready to dispense of it once it was no longer necessary, lest he appear “too religious.” Anyway, just another one of the nuances that makes this country what it is, ones that are easy to miss, but highly appreciated by former sociology majors such as myself.