If you’re looking for a new community sukkah to try as the eight days of Sukkot come to an end, look no further than the online Sukkot in Center City 5779 map.
The map provides an interactive graphic of the sukkahs open to the public at synagogues, Jewish organizations and public parks. The map stretches from Congregation Mikveh Israel in Old City to the Hillels in University City, and from the Chabad at Temple University to The Little Shul — Congregation Shivtei Yeshuron Ezras Israel in South Philadelphia. Clicking on the sukkahs — each marked by a Jewish star — opens a box that provides information such as the hours the sukkah is open to the public and events taking place there.
Center City Kehillah Director Miriam Steinberg-Egeth and Charles Schnur, who runs the Jews in Center City Facebook page, created the map as a community resource.
“I really want everyone to feel like Center City Jewish life is open and available to them,” Steinberg-Egeth said. “The symbol of the sukkah, of being open and welcoming and that we welcome guests to it, is a really integral part of the holiday [and] fits so much into the model of how I envision the Center City Jewish community.”
In previous years, B’nai Abraham Chabad created an interactive Google Map of some of the area’s Chabad-run sukkahs. Steinberg-Egeth saw this map and felt inspired to expand it. Last year, she asked Schnur to create a similar map that included a greater range of sukkahs in Center City.
“It’s such a perfect time of year, right after the High Holidays when people maybe have experienced a synagogue for the first time in Philadelphia or experienced a new synagogue or really just had a hopefully meaningful experience,” Steinberg-Egeth said, “that then Jewish life comes out of the synagogue and into parks and backyards and outside, this wonderful celebratory experience. As important as it is for me to help people find a place in the city to celebrate High Holidays if that’s what they want, there’s something so beautifully accessible about a sukkah itself.”
Schnur created the first Sukkot in Center City map last year. When a community member reached out to recommend including the University City sukkahs as well, he expanded the geographic area covered.
As the holiday progresses, Schnur said he is continuing to update the map based on changing information and community feedback.
Schnur said the map is an extension of the Jews in Center City Facebook page’s goal — to build a sense of community.
Sukkot is an ideal holiday for this kind of map, the two said. The map builds on Sukkot’s themes of inclusivity and welcoming. While Schnur said a map for High Holiday services might make sense, it works better for Sukkot because, unlike synagogues during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, sukkahs don’t generally require reservations and are free and open to the public for the most part. The sukkahs are also up for a week, rather than available for just a few hours.
“With the sukkahs that are listed, these are, for the most part, relatively open that anybody — who might need a place, who might need a sukkah, who has their own sukkah — that they would have some access to it,” he said. “It’s what makes Sukkot unique.”
A new sukkah this year, Schnur said, is one run by Chabad of Fairmount at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
There’s no one Jewish neighborhood in Philadelphia, Schnur said, and looking at the Sukkot in Center City 5779 map makes that apparent.
“We have so many different smaller communities, even within the larger Center City Kehillah,” he said.
Center City Kehillah has its own sukkah in Julian Abele Park in Southwest Center City. The sukkah has a sign explaining what it is and that it’s open to anyone. Steinberg-Egeth spent much of Sukkot week last year in that sukkah, and remembers neighbors stopping by to marvel at the public display. One woman took a photo of the sukkah to show her mom there was Jewish life in her neighborhood.
“It’s an amazing, welcoming piece that’s built into our tradition,” Steinberg-Egeth said. “Having a virtual map where people can see all of those possibilities is really exciting to me.”
Here is a sampling of some community sukkahs and Sukkot events in and near Philadelphia:
The Please Touch Museum has a sukkah up in its garden during the whole week, accessible from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to all ages with an adult caregiver.
Chabad of Fairmount has a sukkah at the Philadelphia Museum of Art stairs. It is up from the 26th until the 28th.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has a sukkah in front of the Jewish Community Services Building on 21st and Arch streets.
Center City Kehillah has a sukkah in Julian Abele Park. In addition to being open for community members to bring their own food for meals throughout the week, the sukkah will host a variety of different events, including after-school enrichment for children enrolled in the Makom Community program, a lunch and learn, potlucks and services.
The sukkah at The Little Shul — Congregation Shivtei Yeshuron Ezras Israel is open by appointment.
Eden Village Camp, Jewish Farm School and Alliance Community Reboot are partnering to put on a Sukkot celebration at 9 Shiff Ave. in Pittsgrove, N.J., on Sept. 30 from noon-3 p.m. The event includes lulav making, learning with author Arthur Kurzweil, a magic show and more. Tickets are $10-$25.
Congregations of Shaare Shamayim will have a Singles in the Sukkah event on Sept. 30 from 2-5 p.m. RSVP to Steve Albert at 267-221-2677 or email him at email@example.com.
On Sept. 28 from 6:45-9:45 p.m. at Naval Square, Neshama Hadassah is hosting a vegetarian Sukkot Shabbatluck Dinner. Tickets are $10.