Photo credit: Beth Shalom Sukkah via Jacksonville.com

Introduction

"There's something awesome about building things. Not only awesome in the 'cool sense' of the word, but awesome in all of its religious splendor." – Rabbi Josh Feigelson in "An Act of Creating: Toys, Sukkot and Grandpa Hymie"

At the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, you will find two sukkot (plural of sukkah): one life-sized and one miniature. 

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  • What constitutes a sukkah?
  • In what ways can you get creative with your sukkot?
  • Is there a sukkah that has remained in your memory?

Sukkah 1: The Deller Family

In the 1930s, before the Nazis took power, the Deller family would construct a wood sukkah in their courtyard. In 1935, the sukkah was smuggled out of Germany and delivered to the Bezalel Museum in Jerusalem. Vibrant, detailed paintings of Jerusalem and the Western Wall make up the center wall of the sukkah. Along the other walls are pictures of German villages and landscapes, Jews from that period, and depictions of the Jewish holidays copied from an 1800s prayer book. More about this sukkah here.

  • Who was this family? What was their connection to Israel?
  • What did they talk about in the sukkah? Why decorate the sukkah the way they did?
  • What did the sukkah come to symbolize for them throughout the course of the 1930s?
  • What do you think their relationship with Israel was? What was their story?

Sukkah 2: Rosa Freudenthal

A few feet away from the Deller Family sukkah is a miniature, cardboard sukkah built by the children of the Rosa Freudenthal toy workshop. Freudenthal taught children how to build this sukkah (and other toys) in order to teach them about the commandments and Jewish concepts in enjoyable ways.

  • Who were these kids?
  • What do you think Sukkot meant to them?
  • What did they talk about while building toys? What do you think they learned?
  • What was their connection to Israel? What was their story?
  1. Use everyday items to construct miniature sukkot. What are the sukkot built out of? Why were those materials used? (For inspiration, check out: 1. Hanoch Piven's work 2. Sukkot Treasure Hunt – a book about collecting sukkah items around Israel.)
  2. Build a miniature sukkah out of items that come from Israel (e.g. a sukkah made completely out of Bamba.) Have your kids share what they created!