Sukkah No.1: The Schach’s the Limit

Downtown Synagogue Plans $4.5 Million Renovation

Stacy Gittleman The Detroit Jewish News

Noah Resnick, associate dean of architecture at University of Detroit Mercy and a designer with Laavu studio in Detroit, said all interior design efforts will take into consideration the historic landmark nature of the building. Through a procession of interior design elements, Resnick said visitors of the building will first experience a welcoming foyer space and then move up either with the stairs or the elevator to the sanctuary. “At the core of all of our interior design concepts and aesthetics will be the bimah and the ark,” said Resnick, who has volunteered at IADS and helped design the synagogue’s sukkah design concepts for Detroit’s 2018 Sukkah X Project competition. “This is such an iconic building known for those colored squares of stained glass. All elements of the design will be created with a celebration keeping in mind the building’s historical significance.”

אָמַר רַבִּי אַמֵּי: פַּס אַרְבָּעָה וּמַשֶּׁהוּ — מַתִּיר בְּסוּכָּה מִשּׁוּם דּוֹפֶן. וּמוֹקֵים לֵיהּ בְּפָחוֹת מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה טְפָחִים סָמוּךְ דּוֹפֶן, וְכׇל פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה סָמוּךְ לַדּוֹפֶן כְּלָבוּד דָּמֵי.

Apropos forming a sukka wall based on the principle of lavud, the Gemara cites that Rabbi Ami said: A board that measures four handbreadths and a bit can permit the use of a sukka, serving as a wall, and it is effective if one establishes it less than three handbreadths from the adjacent wall. And the principle states: The legal status of any objects with a gap of less than three handbreadths between them is as if they were joined.

אָמַר רַב הוּנָא: מַחְלוֹקֶת עַל שְׂפַת הַגָּג, דְּרַבִּי יַעֲקֹב סָבַר: אָמְרִינַן גּוּד אַסֵּיק מְחִיצָתָא, וְרַבָּנַן סָבְרִי: לָא אָמְרִינַן גּוּד אַסֵּיק מְחִיצָתָא, אֲבָל בָּאֶמְצַע הַגָּג — דִּבְרֵי הַכֹּל פְּסוּלָה. וְרַב נַחְמָן אָמַר: בְּאֶמְצַע הַגָּג מַחְלוֹקֶת.

Rav Huna said: The dispute between the Rabbis and Rabbi Ya’akov is in a case where the four posts are aligned on the edge of the roof, directly above the exterior walls of a house, as Rabbi Ya’akov holds that we say the principle: Extend and raise the partitions. Since the exterior walls of the house are full-fledged partitions, they are considered as extending upward indefinitely, constituting the walls of the sukka. And the Rabbis hold that we do not say the principle: Extend and raise the partitions. However, if the posts are placed in the center of the roof, then the walls of the house are irrelevant and everyone agrees that it is an unfit sukka. And Rav Naḥman said: The dispute is in the case of a sukka in the center of the roof, as according to Rabbi Ya’akov, if the posts themselves are one handbreadth wide, they serve as the partitions, while the Rabbis hold that it is not a fit sukka until it has two complete walls and a partial third wall.

מַאי קָא מַשְׁמַע לַן, דְּאָמְרִינַן דּוֹפֶן עֲקוּמָּה? תְּנֵינָא: בַּיִת שֶׁנִּפְחַת וְסִיכֵּךְ עַל גַּבָּיו, אִם יֵשׁ מִן הַכּוֹתֶל לַסִּיכּוּךְ אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת — פְּסוּלָה, הָא פָּחוֹת מִכָּאן כְּשֵׁרָה!

The Gemara asks: What is this halakha teaching us? Is it that we say that the halakha of a curved wall applies to the halakhot of sukka? We already learned this halakha in a mishna (17a): In the case of a house that was breached by a hole in the middle of the roof, and one roofed over the breach, if from the wall to the roofing there are four or more cubits of the remaining original roof it is an unfit sukka. By inference, if the distance is less than that, it is a fit sukka. That is due to the halakha of a curved wall. The intact portion of the roof is considered an extension of the wall. As this halakha was already taught with regard to sukka, what is novel in the halakha of the platform?
אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה: סוּכָּה הָעֲשׂוּיָה כְּמָבוֹי — כְּשֵׁרָה, וְאוֹתוֹ טֶפַח מַעֲמִידוֹ לְכׇל רוּחַ שֶׁיִּרְצֶה.
Rav Yehuda said: A sukka constructed like an alleyway, with two parallel full-fledged walls, is fit, and with regard to that third wall that measures one handbreadth, he positions it adjacent to one of the walls in any direction that he chooses, as it is merely a conspicuous marker.
תְּנַן: וְכֵן חָצֵר הַמּוּקֶּפֶת אַכְסַדְרָה. וְאַמַּאי? נֵימָא פִּי תִקְרָה יוֹרֵד וְסוֹתֵם!
The Gemara cites another proof. We learned in the mishna: With regard to a courtyard that is surrounded on three sides by a portico, if there are four cubits beneath the unfit roofing, the sukka is unfit. The Gemara asks: And why is the sukka unfit? Let us say that the edge of the roof descends and seals, forming a fit partition at the point where the roofing of the sukka begins?
מַתְנִי׳ הָעוֹשֶׂה סוּכָּתוֹ תַּחַת הָאִילָן — כְּאִילּוּ עֲשָׂאָהּ בְּתוֹךְ הַבַּיִת. סוּכָּה עַל גַּבֵּי סוּכָּה — הָעֶלְיוֹנָה כְּשֵׁרָה וְהַתַּחְתּוֹנָה פְּסוּלָה. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר: אִם אֵין דָּיוֹרִין בָּעֶלְיוֹנָה — הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה כְּשֵׁרָה.
MISHNA: With regard to one who establishes his sukka beneath a tree, it is as though he established it inside the house and it is unfit. If one established a sukka atop another sukka, the upper sukka is fit and the lower sukka is unfit. Rabbi Yehuda says: If there are no residents in the upper sukka, the lower sukka is fit.
מַתְנִי׳ הִדְלָה עָלֶיהָ אֶת הַגֶּפֶן וְאֶת הַדַּלַּעַת וְאֶת הַקִּיסוֹס וְסִיכֵּךְ עַל גַּבָּהּ — פְּסוּלָה. וְאִם הָיָה סִיכּוּךְ הַרְבֵּה מֵהֶן, אוֹ שֶׁקְּצָצָן — כְּשֵׁרָה.
MISHNA: If one trellised climbing plants such as a grapevine, or gourd plant, or ivy [kissos], over a sukka while they were still attached to the ground, and then added roofing atop them, the sukka is unfit. If the amount of fit roofing was greater than the plants attached to the ground, or if he cut the climbing plants so that they were no longer attached to the ground, it is fit.

Since When Have Trees Existed Only for Rich Americans?

Ian Leahy, Yaryna Serkez The New York Times

Sami lavvu at the open-air museum in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden


מֵיתִיבִי: תְּלָאָן, וְאַחַר כָּךְ פָּסַק רָאשֵׁי חוּטִין שֶׁלָּהֶן פְּסוּלִין. וְעוֹד תַּנְיָא גַּבֵּי סוּכָּה: ״תַּעֲשֶׂה״ — וְלֹא מִן הֶעָשׂוּי. מִכָּאן אָמְרוּ: הִדְלָה עָלֶיהָ אֶת הַגֶּפֶן וְאֶת הַדַּלַּעַת וְאֶת הַקִּיסוֹס וְסִיכֵּךְ עַל גַּבָּן — פְּסוּלָה.
The Gemara raises an objection to Rav’s opinion from a different baraita: If one attached the ritual fringes and only afterward cut the ends of their strands, they are unfit. And furthermore, it is taught in another baraita with regard to a sukka: The verse states: “Prepare for you the festival of Sukkot” (Deuteronomy 16:13), and from the language of this verse the Sages derived the principle: Prepare it, and not from that which has already been prepared. From here the Sages said: If one trellised a grapevine, a gourd plant, or ivy over a sukka while still attached to the ground, and then he added roofing atop the vines, the sukka is unfit.
כִּי אֲתָא רָבִין אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן, אָמַר קְרָא: ״בְּאׇסְפְּךָ מִגׇּרְנְךָ וּמִיִּקְבֶךָ״, בִּפְסוֹלֶת גּוֹרֶן וָיֶקֶב הַכָּתוּב מְדַבֵּר.
The Gemara cites a different source: When Ravin came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia he said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said that the verse states: “You shall prepare for you the festival of Sukkot for seven days as you gather from your threshing floor and from your winepress” (Deuteronomy 16:13), and the Sages interpreted that it is with regard to the waste of the threshing floor and of the winepress that the verse is speaking. One uses grain stalks and vines for roofing the sukka, materials that are not susceptible to ritual impurity and grow from the ground.
וְרָבָא אָמַר, מֵהָכָא: ״בַּסּוּכּוֹת תֵּשְׁבוּ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים״. אָמְרָה תּוֹרָה: כׇּל שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים צֵא מִדִּירַת קֶבַע וְשֵׁב בְּדִירַת עֲרַאי. עַד עֶשְׂרִים אַמָּה אָדָם עוֹשֶׂה דִּירָתוֹ דִּירַת עֲרַאי, לְמַעְלָה מֵעֶשְׂרִים אַמָּה — אֵין אָדָם עוֹשֶׂה דִּירָתוֹ דִּירַת עֲרַאי אֶלָּא דִּירַת קֶבַע.
Rava said that the halakha is derived from here: “In sukkot shall you reside seven days” (Leviticus 23:42). The Torah said: For the entire seven days, emerge from the permanent residence in which you reside year round and reside in a temporary residence, the sukka. In constructing a sukka up to twenty cubits high, a person can render his residence a temporary residence, as up to that height one can construct a structure that is not sturdy; however, in constructing a sukka above twenty cubits high, one cannot render his residence a temporary residence; rather, he must construct a sturdy permanent residence, which is unfit for use as a sukka.
הָנִיחָא לְמַאן דְּאָמַר עַנְנֵי כָבוֹד הָיוּ. אֶלָּא לְמַאן דְּאָמַר סוּכּוֹת מַמָּשׁ עָשׂוּ לָהֶם, מַאי אִיכָּא לְמֵימַר? דְּתַנְיָא: ״כִּי בַסּוּכּוֹת הוֹשַׁבְתִּי אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל״, עַנְנֵי כָבוֹד הָיוּ, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר. רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר: סוּכּוֹת מַמָּשׁ עָשׂוּ לָהֶם. הָנִיחָא לְרַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר, אֶלָּא לְרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא מַאי אִיכָּא לְמֵימַר?
The Gemara asks: This works out well according to the one who said that the sukkot mentioned in the verse: “I made the children of Israel to reside in sukkot” (Leviticus 23:43), were clouds of glory, as it is reasonable that the roofing of the sukka is modeled after clouds. However, according to the one who said that the children of Israel established for themselves actual sukkot in the desert, and the sukkot of today commemorate those, what can be said? According to that opinion, there is no connection between a sukka and a cloud. As it is taught in a baraita that the verse states: “I made the children of Israel to reside in sukkot”; these booths were clouds of glory, this is the statement of Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Akiva says: They established for themselves actual sukkot. This works out well according to Rabbi Eliezer; however, according to Rabbi Akiva what can be said?


Sukkah x Detroit Finalist

Abre Etteh

The shaded canopy of a tree provides the most modest form of shelter that leaves us open and connected to the natural world. This sukkah alludes to this sensation while bringing together the historic elements of Sukkot; light, water and festal celebrations. Blue in many cultures is a symbol of celebration. The main structure of the sukkah is formed entirely from sheets of plywood, thick enough to give strength and to standardise its construction. The floor of the sukkah is formed from woven natural fibres, indicating its connection to the broader agricultural theme of the festival.

"Pocket Space"

Sukkah x Detroit Finalist


Hiddur Mitzvah means “making a commandment beautiful.” Its aesthetic translation is found in the use of fruit garland, adorned ceilings, and wreaths used to decorate sukkahs. Pocket Space is inspired by an aspiration to celebrate the aesthetic value of the fruit harvest and takes cues from its vibrancy, its fine scale aggregation, and its holistic sculptural affects.

Pocket Space combines the intimate respite of the sukkah with the public, cultural, and agricultural programming of Sukkah x Detroit through the use of lightweight, pockets of space. The packed and suspended fruit, known to traditional sukkah ornamentation, informs the spatial organization and animates the city’s relationship to the harvest, market, and feast.

The suspended, woven netting lightly subdivides the pavilion, creating a crenelated perimeter for market-like programming and a clearly defined interior space for small gatherings. Portions of the nets are movable on a continuous track which allow for different scales of events and controlled variation. The pavilion includes three layers of netting:

  1. The inner most layer defines the three “walls” of the sukkah.
  2. The mid layer defines the “pockets” which create a visual buffer between inside and out, loosely define market “stalls,” while maintaining a strong visual connection between programs.
  3. The outermost layer or the “veil” orients the visitor and defines the entry into the sukkah.

The track links all three layers, and also serves as a roof system, welcoming informal ornamentation and serves as a superstructure for the application

"Seedling Sukkah"

Detroit x Sukkah Finalist

Noah Ives

he Sukkah has become much more than a shelter. It is a reminder of our history; a cultural icon; the centerpiece of a seasonal ritual. In Detroit’s celebration of Sukkahs, I would argue it is even an art object. Sukkah x Detroit may be about the harvest and about Sukkot, but it is also about collective creativity in a city that is continually reinventing itself. The Seedling Sukkah acknowledges these diverse considerations. It is inspired by the simple elegance of natural patterns and designed with the precision and craft of modern technology. It is an intimate gathering space as well as an eye-catching place marker – both an icon and a little bit of shade.


Sukkah x Detroit Finalist

Gamma Architects

The world renowned 'Shuk' is emblematic of a fruitful harvest being shared and enjoyed by generations. Our Shuk-Kah is both a metaphorical and physical celebration of the act of gathering (Chag Ha-asif) and sharing; food, company, faith, love...

Recycled plastic vegetable crates form the primary construction material and furniture. The crates are characteristic of food markets around the world, designed to withstand the arduous transportation process while stacking to form temporary displays in market stalls.

The Shuk-kah commemorates the transient history of the Jewish people. The envelope itself is also transient in nature, changing form and reflecting the activities inside. Crates forming a table and chairs during the day are then stacked against openings to create a more private dwelling space.

Constructing and dismantling The Shuk-kah would be extremely quick and simple, taking advantage of the crates’ inherent structural properties. Friends and family can partake in stacking and binding the crates. The lower row is filled with sang bags to form a sturdy foundation while openings are supported by timber lintels wedged between the crate handles. The roof canopy, made from dried bamboo shoots emphasizes the slightly askew walls, creating gaps through which to see the stars. Low emission led lights illuminate the structure from within, woven between the crates to create an extremely contemporary look while reminiscent of the glowing temporary shelters of the past.


Sukkah x Detroit Finalist

Nice One

A sukkah is an inherently paradoxical construction. A shelter designed to be impermanent and exposed to the elements, the sukkah is a reminder of the precarious and fragile life of our bodies within the world. In response to this charged premise, we proposes a temporary structure that embraces the idea of openness by dissolving the idea of the wall itself. Composed of thousands of suspended thatch bundles, the continuous wall is at once exposed and protective, solid and transparent, fixed and always moving.

With its hairy, flaxen shell, the sukkah hides an intimate space of rest, one where celebrants may peek out while being obscured by sheaves of thatch. The interior is meant to provide a moment of multisensory repose. The sound and smell of the rippling thatch walls and the interplay of light and shadow underneath the bamboo ceiling allow visitors to reset from the auditory, olfactory, and visual stimuli of the outside world.

Our approach to construction reflects the notion that a sukkah must be built solely for the purpose of providing shelter during Sukkot. Its form cannot arise accidentally, be happened upon, or be repurposed from an existing feature or construction. Our sukkah is comprised of a lightweight wooden frame that suspends each thatch bundle between two layers of natural fiber mesh. The construction happens easily and quickly, with the majority of work being done by hand. We celebrate the process of construction: our sukkah deliberately becomes itself as each bundle is placed.

Check out the full archive of all the entries for Sukkah x Detroit here