Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I know that a sukkah is supposed to be a temporary structure, but . . .

The time: roughly 9:30 PM

The place: The Upper West Side (a neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City), West 72nd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue, south/downtown side of street, on the sidewalk in front of a kosher restaurant called the "Pizza Cave."

There I was, straight from my Ulpan Hebrew class at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, innocently munching a falafel sandwich in the sidewalk sukkah when I noticed that the workers were literally carrying out the chairs, then the tables, all around me. Then, noch besser (even better), they explained to two women who stopped to peak into the sukkah that they dismantle the entire sukkah every night, store the component parts in the restaurant, and reassemble it again the next day! Next thing I know, I hear the unmistakable sound of velcro being yanked apart, as the workers began removing the canvas walls from the frame! I never bentsched (said Birkat HaMazon/Grace after Meals) so quickly in my life! Praying at breakneck speed, I went straight from the minimum legal required text (l'olam al y'chasreinu) to the line asking Hashem to rebuild the fallen sukkah of (King) David, lest the walls of the sukkah in which I was sitting fall on my head! By the time I'd made a quick dash to the ladies' room, there wasn't a smidge of s'chach in sight, and the by-then-bare snap-together frame was being unsnapped. The entire sukkah was dismantled in probably less than 15 minutes. This may be one for the Guinness Book of Records.


Blogger Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

Among other things, it seems to be rather bad form to dismantle a sukkah that still has people inside it...

Tue Oct 10, 01:48:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Oy, vey, you can say that again! It would have been nice if they'd waited until I left the sukkah to start tearing open the velcro used to attach the canvas walls to the frame. I really was concerned that, if I didn't hurry up, by the time I got to the phrase "sukkat David" I've no longer be sitting in a sukkah! I've never before had the experience of watching a sukkah being deconstructed while I was still seated therein.

Tue Oct 10, 09:31:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

Did they not realize that you were still inside? Or were they just incredibly rude?

I just can't get past the idea of putting up a succah for your sukkot-observing patrons and then taking it down while someone is trying to partake in the purpose of the succah in the first place.

Wed Oct 11, 02:22:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

They couldn't have missed me if they'd tried--the sukkah was so small that they were practically standing on me. I blame the workers' supervisor for insisting that the workers commence the deconstruction of the sukkah while someone was still inside. In defense of the workers, it's entirely possible that no one bothered to explain the significance of the sukkah to them. (I've run into similar situations in the past. There was the time that a very respectful non-Jewish synagogue employee served dairy cake after a meat meal. He'd carefully bought cake that he knew was kosher. It turned out that no one had ever explained the concept of parve to him.) But even so, dismantling it around its "inhabitant" was not even safe, much less considerate or respectful.

Wed Oct 11, 09:38:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...


Parve: A food that is neither dairy nor meat (note that, in Jewish law, poultry is included in the meat category), and is not processed or cooked with dairy or meat or any products thereof. Eggs, fish, fruit, vegetable, and grain are all parve, *unless* they are cooked or processed with meat or dairy products. For example, herring in wine sauce is generally parve (also spelled pareve), but herring in cream sauce is dairy.

Jewish law prohibits the eating or cooking of meat and dairy foods together. Hence, it would be forbidden to eat a dairy dessert after a red-meat or poultry meal.

Wed Oct 11, 09:48:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Parve "ice cream," often made with tofu, and other "fakes," such as fake bacon, fake cheese, and fake chopped meat were among the greatest inventions of the twentieth century for Jews who observe the ("dietary") laws of kashrut (keeping kosher).

Wed Oct 11, 09:51:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Whoa, that's shocking.
Last night i was eating in a restaurant sukkah and then came in to... put on a lamp, because it was sunset. Although this was in New Jersey, where the building of the restaurant had a back yard.

Wed Oct 11, 12:12:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Indeed, Steg, I was pretty taken aback.

Wed Oct 11, 08:09:00 PM 2006  

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