To some, seeing a canvas sukkah outside invokes the good-hearted spirit of Sukkot and brings a connection to Judaism.
To others, seeing a canvas sukkah outside presents a prime opportunity for some spray-painting.
If you have been outside of the Jewish Community Services Building at 2100 Arch St. in the last week, you’ve likely noticed the large blue and gray canvas hut along the wall of the main entrance (it’s pretty hard to miss). Soon after it went up, however, a cosmetic change occurred: There was silver-gray graffiti sprayed both outside and inside of the sukkah.
This happens every year, according to Steven Rosenberg, chief marketing officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, whose first reaction to seeing the graffiti was that it was not a big deal.
“People like to destroy others’ property,” Rosenberg said via email. “Sad but true.”
The sukkah went up last week, and the graffiti first appeared on Oct. 16.
“It goes up every year around the same time,” he said, adding that they will continue to put up the structure annually. “It’s an important symbol of Judaism this time of year.”
The graffiti is simply tags and scribbles, and Rosenberg noted that it was not the result of an anti-Semitic act.
“People are rude and inconsiderate and probably think they are being funny,” he said.
Inside the sukkah hung decorative fall accessories like strings of fake leaves and fall-colored flowers, and the sun peeked through the traditional twig-laden roof. There was a long table with chairs, which employees could use.
There were no formal events held in the sukkah, Rosenberg said, but “employees and neighbors often gather for lunch and for personal prayer and reflection. As the hub of Jewish life in Philadelphia, erecting the sukkah is part of how we carry the light in the community each and every day.”
The identity of the graffiti artist remains a mystery.
“Next year, we may just put up a blank canvas and leave spray paint outside to make things easier for them. Perhaps we can sponsor a contest to decorate the sukkah, but then we might take the fun out of the after-hours nature of doing this,” Rosenberg joked.
“While you and I would never think of destroying others’ property, sadly there are people that think this sort of thing is funny,” he continued. “It isn’t, but we have important work to do and won’t be distracted by the shenanigans of the misguided.”
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