Sept. 27 will be a night of celebration, Sukkot gathering and community joy at the first Sukkah City at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, according to Rabbi Jessy Dressin, senior director of Jewish learning and life.
“Twelve sukkot all in the same place is a very different experience than simply visiting one sukkah standing on its own,” Dressin said.
The rabbi had heard about “sukkah cities” that were design competitions, but her focus differed.
“Our vision is for this to be a community celebration and to bring together a larger segment of our Baltimore Jewish community in a way that I don’t know would happen otherwise,” Dressin said. “Another goal is to really bring forth the magnitude of the notion of ‘our season of joy’ and to create an atmosphere for people who don’t really have other opportunities to experience Sukkot in such a heightened and expansive way.”
About a dozen groups are responsible for the construction and decoration, incorporating Sukkot themes including impermanence, shelter, festival celebration, joy and more. They will also develop an activity or item for visitors to help engage them in those themes.
“These teams have met once a week for the last three weeks in order to grow their own ideas alongside the other sukkah builders,” Dressin said. “They have dedicated their time and brainstorming power to ensure their individual sukkah will help to create the festival spirit. Additionally, each group has been engaging their community organization, group of friends or agency to help get the word out and to help make this a real community-wide effort.”
Dressin is hoping for 250-300 people to come through Sukkah City on Sept. 27 and that the evening will enhance their holiday experience “in ways that they wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to enjoy. For many who are less familiar with Sukkot, have never sat in a sukkah or don’t really know much about this holiday, we see it as a chance to learn, engage, explore and experience.”
The event will include live music, treats, story time and Sukkot activities ranging from making festival posters to making lulavs out of local materials.
The rain-or-shine event, 5 to 9 p.m., is free and open to the public. For more information, visit jcc.org/sukkah-city.