Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sukkah Portland - Ancient Tradition, Contemporary Design

Emly Oren
Moishe House Portland

On October 5th, 2012 Moishe House Portland had the privilege of partnering with Oregon Jewish Museum and Portland Young Adult Shabbat for a spectacular event that featured six beautiful sukkah's created from artists around the country. The sukkah is a temporary communal dwelling place, traditionally created each fall in the observance of Sukkot. These shelters are created for protection and allow us to observe nature, joy, harvest, and the prayer for rain. As we head into the Fall and Winter, we hope rain will come to replenish our planet. We ask for actual rain but we all ask for all of forms of blessing to be showered upon us for the coming year.
The sukkahs held for this event were put in competition with many other sukkahs around the country; however, only six creative and original sukkahs were chosen to best symbolize and provide contemporary responses to the traditional challenges of sukkah design. Once these six sukkahs were chosen, they were put on display in the parking lot of Oregon Jewish Museum  for a week-long series of events that seek to place this ancient holiday within a modern context. One such event took place on this special Shabbat evening where we came together as a community for a yummy vegetarian potluck dinner, featuring a live band, and the display of the winners of this year's sukkah competition. Participants were given the opportunity to stroll, schoomze, and nosh their way through the sukkahs with family and friends.
Coming together as a community during this time of year reminded me of many things -Dwelling in a sukkah forces us to remove ourselves from the materialistic things that normally fill our environment. We surround ourselves day to day with our materialistic accomplishments but Sukkot forces us to leave those behind and return to a much simpler existence where our priorities refocuses onto affirmations of nationhood, spirituality, and the importance of communal living. Moishe House Portland was given the special opportunity to bring our community together, inviting others to dwell in our sukkahs and share a meal together. This Sukkah event reminded me of how lucky we are to be given the commandment of creating a peaceful and important dwelling place where participants have the privilege of learning, growing, and come together in the time of rejoicing. 

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