The Suburban Succah

When technology and Torah observance intersect, unexpected consequences may sometimes result. Consider the case of Jacob Rabinowitz below.

Of all the many holidays in the Jewish calendar, Jacob loved Sukkot the best. From his earliest days as a boy growing up in the city, he would look forward to that time of year when his father would build the small, traditional canvas sukkah in the narrow courtyard of their Manhattan apartment building. Jacob loved the ingenious ways his father would devise to transport the linens, utensils, plates, and food from their fourth-floor apartment to the sukkah 50 feet below. One year the family rigged a laundry basket to slowly lower the needed items from the kitchen window to the ground below. The basket would sway back and forth on occasion, frightening any neighbor who happened to be looking out his or her window as the basket was passing. His father’s recitation of the Kiddush on the first night of Sukkot, a slight chill in the air, was among Jacob’s earliest, and most pleasant, memories.

While many things change in people’s lives as they age, this rule didn’t apply to Jacob’s love of Sukkot. This love extended to his studying in detail all the laws pertaining to the holiday. He knew the rules of constructing a sukkah, all the regulations on how, when, and where to enter this temporary structure and, in particular, the order of the blessings required to be recited in the sukkah. He even mastered the rules of when a person is exempt from the commandments of sukkah. In particular, Jacob knew that one was not required to eat or otherwise dwell in the sukkah if heavy rain was falling. In fact, each year Jacob would nervously scan advanced weather maps to try to predict whether rain was forecast for the first days of Sukkot.


About the Author
The author has visited Israel over 30 times, lived in Jerusalem for several years, and attended the Hebrew University in Givat Ram as a visiting student in1969-70 (a sojourn that provided him with lots of material for this blog). Born in New York City, he grew up on the Upper West Side and has spent more than 4 decades living in Teaneck, New Jersey with his wife, Barbara. He has been a frequent contributor to Jewish periodicals, in print and online. his first collection of short stories and essays, entitled "Timeless Travels: Tales of Mystery, Intrigue, Humor and Enchantment," was published in 2018 by Gefen Books and is available online at He is currently working on a follow-up volume of stories and essays.