The Shipping Container Sukkah
Malka van Bemmelen
The Shipping Container Sukkah
As the child of Holocaust survivors, I grew up in the sixties in an apartment building in Brooklyn. Every Sukkot was an adventure, eating my mother’s delicious holiday meals in the sukkah we shared with two other families in our building’s courtyard. Currently, I live in suburbia and enjoy sharing holiday meals with family and friends in a pre-fab backyard sukkah, and my teenagers revel in the adventure of sleeping in it overnight.

Working as an architect on a LEED Platinum home for Paterson Habitat for Humanity has deepened my respect for shelter, energy efficiency, and recycling. When I drive down the NJ Turnpike and see the stacked piles of colorful metal shipping containers, I think how productive it would be to reuse these as insulated homes. Another use could be as a sukkah to accommodate a small family, using the 8ftx10ft model, with the 8ftx20ft model perfect for a larger group. This would be accomplished by removing the metal top and the door assembly, trimming window and door openings with 2x2 metal angles, and a covering of bamboo poles (schach) supported by a wooden frame.

Once we have experienced being in the temporal sukkah and the outdoors, we are able to return to our homes with a heightened sense of spirituality and an appreciation for the physical comforts we have been given. Leaving one’s home and entering the world of the sukkah emphasizes how the spiritual side of existence can bring true joy and meaning to life.

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