Last night I spoke at the Happy Minyan about Sukkot, and it just felt right to tell some of the story of the first sukkah tour in Poland we created in 1997. The Mobile Sukkah was built at night in Gdansk, after celebrating the first days of the Festival in a Sukkah we built in the courtyard of a former synagogue. The schach (the natural material covering that goes on top of a sukkah) we had brought from Israel, because acquiring roll-out bamboo schach in Poland was not an option. The truck and driver belonged to a friend of a driver we knew, and we sat in the cab. Last night I told some of the stories from the tour, I suppose that we should record in a story someplace.
Then first thing this morning I got a call from Rabbi Mati Kos, a founder of Jewish renewal in Poland who now works in Hamburg. He received an urgent email from Poland. It seems that Gazata Wyborcha, the equivalent of the NY Times in Poland, had published an article about Chabad’s mobile sukkah, calling it the ‘first mobile sukkah in Poland’.
Well let the story be retold, remembered by those who worked in Jewish community renewal and by Jewish communities across Poland, that the first Mobile Sukkah Tour was in 1997. At the time Rachel and I were working for The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, reaching small communities during High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover, and at summer and winter camps. The Tour was named Halas in the Szalas, which loosely translates as Party in the Shack, because the word Sukkah in Polish is a very impolite word for a female dog. We even created a commemorative t-shirt to highlight the Tour.
The tour traveled over 1000 kilomteres starting in Gdansk, and visiting Szczeczin, Poznan, Wroclaw, Legnica, Bytom, Katowice, Bielsko-Biala, and Krakow. Click the t-shirt to see the rest of the photos. HAPPY SUKKOT!