The panel painting began in 1983 at the suggestion of the then rabbi of the congregation, Martin Edelman. He requested that the sukkah needed to be beautified, a concept known in Hebrew as hidur mitzvah, enhancing the commandment. The painted panels were begun as a group project, organized and led by the Ritual Committee. Since that beginning these panels have been hand-painted by congregants with various scenes taken from or inspired by Bible stories and quotations, current events, Jewish holidays, art, postcards and illuminations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The NSJC sukkah is a rather unique example of folk art. It consists of 57 hand-painted panels that have been designed and executed by congregants and are hung on a wooden frame. They stand outside each autumn for between one and four weeks depending on when they are put up and taken down by Men’s Club volunteers.
A brief history:
A plain, undecorated sukkah was originally constructed in 1982 by a congregant named Zip Levy and it was smaller than the one that exists today. A second section of blank wooden panels was added several years later to provide a covered opening from the synagogue sanctuary to the sukkah so that congregants could walk directly into it, sparing them from rain.
Our sukkah is a work of art which comes from the hearts and hands of individuals who spent many hours helping us to appreciate the beauty of our Jewish heritage. Thanks to the artful endeavors of these people, our sukkah has continued to grow in its unique beauty.
The NSJC sukkah now has several panels in need of some repair. A committee has been formed to do some of the preservation work that will be needed to keep the sukkah in good condition for use by future generations.
If you'd like to participate in our sukkah repair and replacement, click here to email our building vice president.
These wood panels are representative of the panels that create the walls of our Sukkah. Each panel was designed and painted by our congregants over many years. Our Sukkah is literally a work of art.