Taking it to the streets

BY SARAH WILSON, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Sukkot is traditionally celebrated in a temporary booth or hut made of wood, canvas or even glass that is built on an immovable area.

The sukkah does not always have to stay put, though. Sometimes, it can even drive away.

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For the first time, Chabad of Chesterfield celebrated Sukkot this year with a “Sukkah Mobile” that traveled throughout the Chesterfield area during a span of three different days: October 17, 19 and 20.

Sukkah mobiles have been around for more than 20 years, but this is the first year Chabad of Chesterfield has taken part in the idea.

“In the days of the Mishnah, they discussed where a kosher sukkah can be made,” said Rabbi Avi Rubenfeld, director of Chabad of Chesterfield. “They talked about a sukkah in a tree and we decided to update the sukkah on a camel by putting it on the back of a truck. This is the modern day version. This is visiting a little twist on the sukkah.”

Sukkot occurs every year on the fifteenth day of the month of Tishri. A sukkah is a reminder of the Clouds of Glory, which protected the Jews in the desert for 40 years. Jews traditionally sit, eat and sleep outside for eight days to remind them of their faith in G-d.

“Mitzvot has to do with Jewish unity,” Rubenfeld said. “Anybody can be sharing in the mitzvah. It is the only commandment that all of the Jews in the world celebrate, and it represents the four different kinds of Jews there are.”

“This, I think, brings unity to everybody everywhere, and even they build their own. It’s a nice thing that’s spreading,” he said.

Once visitors were onboard the Sukkah Mobile, they were given the chance to say a blessing over the Four Kinds using the lulav and etrog and then sample an assortment of kosher snacks and participate in other fun activities.

The sukkah visited previously selected areas at the homes of elderly and children as well as the specific homes of residents who signed up for a “Sukkah Mobile Lawn Party.” ‘

Residents who signed up were encouraged to invite as many friends and family as they could, and the largest party won two box seats to a Cardinals game.

Sam Pilkinton and Brad Pearlman are the volunteers responsible for the success of the Sukkah Mobile. They try to help out Chabad whenever possible.

“My background gives me a lot of experience with construction,” Pilkinton said. “So basically anytime Avi needs anything, he calls me. All of his projects are really worthwhile and are pretty fun to do.”

Not only did they construct and build the Sukkah mobile, but they also participated in running the program by driving around to different homes and shopping centers for the program.

“The response was overall positive,” Pilkinton said. “This was kind of an experiment for everybody, but I think it went pretty well. We’ve got a really good platform to keep things going. What better way to spend our free time?”