By Mason Mattox
A sukkah is a home away from home, a small tent constructed for the week long Jewish festival of Sukkot, celebrating the arrival of the Israelites into the promised land. This holiday is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, which is still widely celebrated today.
Upper school art teacher Liz Wilson’s students have been learning about this tradition, and how these overlooked tents became a central aspect of Old Testament culture. Students built their Sukkahs out of materials such as clay, fabric, and wood. All of this occurred throughout the month of October, parallel to the real world. Everything beautiful about the month of October and the fall season can also be seen within these projects, like miniature detailed pumpkins.
“It took time…I like building stuff and detailing it,” seventh grader Drew Fields said about what he enjoyed most about the project. A key aspect of Sukkah building has always been to take plenty of time, and detail it, similar to Moses constructing the Tabernacle, which also took time to detail. Each project took several weeks to build as students learned to focus on even the smallest of details.
Seventh grader Emily Reece said that her favorite part of the Sukkah is “The bed, the blanket with patches, and the pumpkin!” The pumpkin has certainly been a popular piece to create amongst students who seem to be enjoying the harvest season’s creativity.
Tenth grader Taylor Hines stated that when building her Sukkah, she was “going for a Japanese thing. It was my idea to do the strings, and my favorite part was making the little pillows.”
Tenth grader Morghyn Barnhill said, “I love my tree, the inside, and outside…I thought of it as a house for a family.” Barnhill added a unique touch to her Sukkah, by adding a simple tree. Much like a house becomes a home through family, so does a tent become a Sukkah through the wilderness and nature. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for many years, and in a similar way, the wilderness comes home too through Barnhill’s towering tree.
When asked about what she enjoyed most about her Sukkah, tenth grader Mackenzie Faulk replied “I really like how we weaved the roof with popsicle sticks and yarn…I like how it’s closed off and different from everyone else’s.” This Sukkah features elaborate weaving through a lattice design that covers the entire space. With festive colors of white, burgundy, rose, and lavender, this piece is truly more than just an art class tent.
Although this activity has concluded, and the Feast of Tabernacles has ended for the year of 2017, students will certainly remember their experiences in the wilderness created in art class. Each Sukkah was created to be lived in for one week, though it’s doubtful that anyone plans to sleep in these anytime soon.