Now that Yom Kippur has past we turn our thoughts and efforts to Succot. We came home from synagogue tonight and after some refreshment you could hear the sound of hammers joyfully getting the sukka ready. The fact is one used to hear more hammers but nowadays the succa is just as likely to be of the 'instant' version made of cloth walls strung on an aluminum frame. Just before Yom Kippur I read about an interesting competition taking place in New York City. It's called Sukka City 2010 and it attracted 600 entries from 43 countries. The architects and designers had "to re-imagine this ancient phenomenon, develop new methods of material practice and parametric design, and propose radical possibilities for traditional design constraints in a contemporary urban site." The official website of the contest includes an informative page with the biblical roots of the succa and a summary of the rules (known as halachot in these parts) that need to be followed in order to properly build the succa. It's an interesting mix and if you look at this slide show you will see that there are some broad interpretations of those rules.
The judges have already chosen 12 of the 600 entries and they will be on view in Union Square Park in New York City today September 19 and tomorrow September 20. You can vote for the winner at New York Magazine even if you don't live in New York. The winner stays on view in the park for the duration of the holiday. You can also buy one of the succot and the proceeds will be donated to help New York's homeless. That's a nice touch.