Kenneth Lasson is a professor emeritus of law at the University of Baltimore, but in his neighborhood, he’s known for the elaborate sukkah that he, his wife and his children set up for Sukkot each year.
Dioramas of biblical scenes line its walls, along with tapestries and souvenirs from the Lassons’ travels.
“We like to pick up at least one decoration for the sukkah whenever we travel, so there’s always something new in there every year,” Lasson said.
For the eight days of Sukkot, people eat their meals and say blessings in sukkahs, the small outdoor huts that represent the lodgings the Israelites used on their journey to the promised land. The rules for building a sukkah are simple. According to chabad.org, there cannot be anything between the sukkah’s roof and the sky. While the walls can be made of anything, often wood or tarps, the roof must be made of schach — materials that grow in the ground, like bamboo or tree branches. Some Judaica stores even sell premade sukkahs.
But some people go above and beyond in decorating their sukkah for the holiday. Some decorate theirs according to a specific theme every year, while others take the opportunity to honor their family and loved ones who could not join them for the celebration.
More recently, Lasson has added a more technologically advanced element to his sukkah: a screen for video calls with family.
“What we do is we have a little video screen, and we video call the kids,” he said. “I have three kids and 17 grandchildren, and many of them live in Israel, so we can see them in the sukkah. I project pictures of them in the sukkah, too.”
Fallon Saposnik, a Pikesville Hebrew school teacher, takes a similar tactic of including long-distance relatives in Sukkot festivities.
“Because none of our family lives nearby, I made a special poster with photos of the grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, and then at the bottom my kids put their handprints. It’s my favorite decoration,” Saposnik said.
“In a way they are our ushpizin,” she added, in reference to the Kabbalist idea that seven Jewish biblical figures visit all the sukkahs in the world on Sukkot.
In addition to using their sukkah decorations to honor their families, some people add a personal touch to their sukkah by giving it themed decorations.
Saposnik said that she always uses purple fairy lights in her sukkah because it’s her favorite color.
Shifrah Green, another Baltimore resident who lives in Sudbrook Park, uses the naturalistic imagery often associated with Sukkot to create a whimsical, fairy tale atmosphere in her sukkah.
“I mostly just go all out,” Green said. “My sukkah has a fairy garden vibe. I love decorating, so I really lean into that on Sukkot. It’s my favorite holiday.”
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