Monday, October 31, 2011

A MH Vancouver Sukkah story

It all began with a relatively simple plan: To build a Sukkah.

Jacob and I went to Home Depot with a Sukkah design that seemed affordable and easy to construct. It would be built with 6 and 8 foot long, thin aluminum poles attached together into a 12X12X8 foot Sukkah. Tarp walls would complete a roomy, drafty but altogether lovely Sukkah.Great.

Wandering the aisles at Home depot is probably what it feels like to be ADHD, not knowing where to look first, with nails, brackets, sinks, wood, drainage etc looming to the top of the warehouse ceiling and extending endlessly into the horizon of a D.I.Y junkie's dreamworld. Our first problem was that they didn't have poles, the right ones, that is. They had copper pipes (very expensive), long (12 foot) wobbly plastic pipes, but no 6 and 8 foot aluminum poles. So we kept exploring, silently recognizing that it would take a lot longer than expected. Ideas came to us, like using cinder blocks (didn't have the right ones), using lattices (too expensive), 2X4's (too heavy if we create a base out of them too), but were rejected, and we went home to think about it.

The next day we returned with Rotem. He thought a 2X4 structure could work. We bought 12 and 16 foot long 2X4 beams to build a 12 foot cube, with 16 foot crossbeams for support.

They were HUGE and HEAVY. Could we even fit them into a Subaru station wagon? We turned down the back seats, slid the beams in until they touched the windshield, but they still stuck out of the trunk about 4 feet. We had no rope with us either. We were impatient to go home, so Jacob and I sat in the trunk and held onto 12 -12 foot and 6-16 foot 2X4's, which, when held together, were as thick as a cedar trunk. Then we prayed that the beams a) wouldn't slip out of the open trunk door b) that the car wouldn't hit a bump c)scrape against the ground when driving uphill d) wouldn't get pulled over.

We drove 5 miles an hour to be safe. The drive from Home Depot to our house is uphill almost the entire way along a very busy street. Needless to say people were not happy we held up traffic. We shrugged off the dirty looks, the obscenities, and the people too embarrassed to even look at us for fear we are a bunch of crazy psychos. But then this car cuts us off and stops right in front of us in the middle of the street. This dude wearing a toque walks up and sticks his head in our window and says " you guys better pull over, you have no idea", I am going to write you up". We get a closer look at him and see he has a joint hanging out the corner of his mouth. Rotem looks at me, I look at Jacob who looks back at Rotem. Is he an off-duty cop smoking a joint or a stoner pretending to have authority? Rotem says something like, yeah sure we will get off the road at the next light, and he walks back to his car and drives off. We laugh and make our way slowly back home.

It poured the next day. But people showed up for the Sukkah building event, so we went out with our hammers, nails, brackets, boots and rain coats. After we began to nail the beams together, we realized a) just how tall 12 foot ceilings are, and how difficult it will be to erect the Sukkah and b) that our yard is uneven. So first we built the 3 walls separately, then laid one of the walls on the ground and nailed in the other 2 walls vertically, at right angles on opposite sides. Then we pushed and pushed until the Sukkah rotated 90 degrees, and the wall previously lying on the ground became the back wall. The walls teetered and swayed on the uneven ground, but held! The 10 people who helped stood back and laughed at how ridiculously tall the Sukkah was. It was unreal, like a distorted, monstrous prop. The Frankenstein of sukkahs. A walk- in -joke.

The Sukkah stood for 2 weeks and provided us with a place to host our clothing swap/drive, drink l'chaims, shake the Lulav, and hang out with friends. Would any of us have built such a Sukkah alone? NO, it was too much, too weird. But together as a group, somehow the weirdness of it became charming, the monster protective and comforting, the joke funny and not shameful.

Our walk-in-joke will be up next year, so if you are flying over Vancouver and your plane suddenly lurches, don't be alarmed, chances are you have just avoided our Sukkah.


Baruch Huberman, MH Vancouver

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