Joanne Palmer
Joanne Palmer

Is that a sukkah? (No, it’s a restaurant shed.)

A restaurant shed in midtown Manhattan earlier this spring.
Janine & Jim Eden/Wikimedia Commons
An outdoor restaurant in midtown Manhattan earlier this year. JANINE & JIM EDEN/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

You know the expression “A stopped watch is right twice a day?” It’s true.

So it makes sense that once a year it really will be Sukkot, even if local streets, at least here in New York, look like Sukkot all year round now.

That’s because of the profusion of places to eat outdoors. (I might be the only person to whom the constant use of the word “dining” is a constant irritant, and perhaps I simply am inelegant, but I rarely dine and frequently eat. So…) Restaurants have moved their dining rooms (okay, I’ll use the word here) outside. Over the last year, they’ve gone from utilitarian tents to often lovely, flower-bedecked, carefully and cunningly designed, air-and light-filled spaces; to walk by them is to hear voices and laughter, and to feel happier.

Those tents? They’re basically sukkot. The best ones are partially open; they don’t have schach on top but they sometimes look charmingly thatched. And they’re a temporary home in what had begun to feel like a wilderness.

There are some good things that have come from the covid nightmare. No, clearly they’re not worth the price, but given that we had no choice, we would do well to enjoy them. Eating outside is one of those good things. I hope that the trend will outlast the pandemic.

Meanwhile, we hope that our readers will enjoy Sukkot, after the emotional intensity of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We know that many of you put up your own sukkot every year; last year, you sat in them alone, but this year, most people will carefully calibrate how many guests they can invite, and then relish sitting with them.

We would love it if you would send us photos of your sukkot; we’ll print as many as we can. Please email them to pr@jewishmediagroup.com.

Chag sameach.

About the Author
Joanne is the editor of the Jewish Standard and lives in Manhattan with her husband and two dogs, so she has firsthand knowledge of two thriving and idiosyncratic Jewish communities. (Actually that's three communities, if you also count the dog people.)
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