The weeklong Jewish holiday Sukkot begins today, and Jewish people around the world are spending it in temporary structures known as sukkahs. These shelters, which usually consist of three walls and a covering that lets light in, are a tradition grounded in Jewish history that have seamlessly found a place in 21st century Judaism, too.
Rabbi Ari D. Weiss of Cornell Hillel tells Refinery29 that sukkahs are meant to mimic the huts or booths that the Israelites lived in while wandering in the desert (thus their impermanence). Given their religious and historic significance, there's naturally a set code, as Rabbi Weiss describes it, that one must follow while building their own sukkah. He says there are laws around what makes something temporary, what qualifies exactly as a "structure," and how much covering there should be.
"There are actually volumes upon volumes of rabbinic conversation about building sukkahs," Rabbi Weiss says. "But, within that, there’s a lot of variation."
A quick scroll through the sukkah-related hashtags on Instagram will show just how much variation exists within sukkah construction these days. From simple wooden beam structures to shelters that look more like modern art than anything else, sukkahs in 2017 run the gamut in appearance — and, thankfully, their designers are more than happy to share them on social media.