• This was built at the Terrace, an assisted-living facility in Queensbury, NY

    This sukkah, built at the Terrace, an assisted-living facility in Queensbury, NY was judged Number One by architect Pam Davidson

    Eleanor Levie, The Jewish Agency for Israel ©
  • David, Debbie, Josh, Michele and Brian Schachter shared their harvest-like sukkah from Pennsylvania USA

    David, Debbie, Josh, Michele and Brian Schachter's harvest-like sukkah from Pennsylvania, USA was Number One for art critic and curator Julia Weiner

    , The Jewish Agency for Israel ©
  • Children from The Jewish Agency's Ye'elim Immigrant Absorption Center in Be'er Sheva have submitted a photo of themselves

    Maria of Ukraine, Gavriel of Yemen, Annamalai of Peru, AJ of South Africa, and Sofia of Argentina—all recent immigrants to Israel living at the Ye'elim Absorption Center in Be'er Sheva— helped build artist Betina Schnaid's Number One Sukkah

    , The Jewish Agency for Israel ©
Israel In Your Community

And the winners are...!

The Terrace assisted-living facility in Queensbury, New York; the Schachter family of Pennsylvania; and the new immigrant children at the Ye'elim Absorption Center in Be'er Sheva, Israel - our judges, Pam Davidson, Julia Weiner, and Betina Schnaid, have made their choices for The Jewish Agency Sukkathon 2013/5774!

All the judges agreed that it was very difficult for them to decide on their Number One Sukkah. They said that all the entries were so beautiful. From communities all over the globe, people invited us into their beautiful sukkahs. Thank you for being such gracious hosts.

A lot rests on the quality of the photo, and what it managed to capture," Pam Davidson says, explaining why it was so hard for her to choose a 'best sukkah'. "I looked at the structure, the schach [roof], the decorations, lights and finally the set table.  I asked myself, did I want to have dinner there?"

Pam Davidson was the principal architect and project manager on many projects in Cape Town, South Africa before making Aliyah - such as the FIFA World Cup Stadium and the South African Heritage Storage Museum. She has also worked on residential and municipality projects in Cape Town, Ra'anana, Holon, and Rishon le Zion, and has opened her own studio in Ra'anana. 

In first place, Davidson chose the sukkah at the Terrace in Queensbury, NY. Eleanor Levie submitted this photograph of the sukkah in the assisted-living facility where her mother-in-law lives.

"I loved the raw construction of the walls and the simplicity of the pumpkin decorations. 

Second place goes to Suzanne Sheldon from Sydney, Australia. The family built their very first sukkah this year and enjoyed hosting family and friends every night. "Suzanne managed to mix busy festive lights with a feeling of quiet serenity," Davidson comments.

In third place is Elliot and Elaine Dreyfuss in New York City. Elliot built this kosher sukkah with the help of two other architects. "This structure is fabulous! This would probably have been first place if I could see the inside setting. Without that it unfortunately felt too impersonal," Davidson says.

Davidson had such a difficult time choosing that she also gave honorable mentions to Krakow's Jewish Community Center's sukkah - "decorations are fascinating" and Congregation Rodeph Shalom's recycled sukkah - "a beautiful way to reuse bottle caps." In both sukkahs, the entire community was involved in constructing and decorating.

Julia Weiner also loved the idea of the eco-friendly sukkah where nothing new was purchased. "I just love the colourful decorations made out of bottle tops and am going to suggest that my synagogue do the same next year." Weiner awarded the Congregation Rodeph Shalom second place. 

Julia Weiner has served as the art critic of the Jewish Chronicle (JC) since 1993. She is also Lecturer in Art History at Regent's University London and works part-time in the Learning Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum. She was Curator at the Ben Uri Art Gallery, London, from 1990-1996 and has also worked at the London Museum of Jewish Life. She currently advises London Jewish Cultural Centre on their exhibition programme.

Weiner placed Judy Kaufthal's Westhampton 'seashell sukkah' third. Judy lives in Riverdale, NY and is involved in the UJA and local Federation. She also chairs the Celebrate Israel Parade on Fifith Avenue in New York City. "I love entertaining in my Seashell Sukkah," Judy says. Julia liked how it made use of natural resources from nearby, and it's authentic 'seaside feel'.  

"My favourite was the beautiful Harvest Sukkah from Pennsylvania," Weiner says. "I love the way the harvest theme has been incorporated into the structure, yet it is still very striking with its colourful garland of vibrant red, orange and yellow flowers providing a contrast to the green of the corn. I wish I could see the interior!"

David, Debbie, Josh, Michele and Brian Schachter are from Pennsylvania in the USA. "Our sukkah is by far the most harvest-like and best smelling sukkah there is!" Michele boasts. "It's surrounded by corn stalks weaved around a wooden frame my father put together when he and my mother were married. The wooden frames are mounted by cinder blocks and there are flowers and harvest fruit hung around the sukkah. Inside you'll find pictures of some great Jewish leaders and heros!"

As an olah herself, Betina Schnaid was inspired by the children from The Jewish Agency's Ye'elim Immigrant Absorption Center in Be'er Sheva in the absorption center sukkah, which they helped build and decorate. Maria (age 5) of Ukraine, Gavriel (age 5) of Yemen, Annamalai (age 5) of Peru, AJ (age 6) of South Africa, and Sofia (age 4) of Argentina are all celebrating their first Sukkot in Israel. 

Betina Schnaid made Aliyah from Brazil in July 2011 and studied at Ulpan Etzion. She holds a BA in Fine Arts, and a Masters Degree in Graphic Design, and worked as an Art Director for over 10 years. Having studied in Brazil, Spain and Israel, she now makes a living as a fine artist. She represented Israel at the first London Art Biennale in 2013.

"We are starting a New Year and these olim children represent the real hope in this country," says Betina of her choice.

"The ceiling height shows that was made by them and for them! I wish for them to be happy in Israel for many years, and that each one give the best of themselves to improve this country and that the ceiling gets higher over the time and that they will have their own families in Israel... THE SKY IS THE LIMIT FOR THESE BEAUTIFUL OLIM!"

Pam, Julia, and Betina expressed how much they enjoyed visiting all your sukkahs and wish you a Chag Sameach.

You can view our album of some of our submissions, and make your own comments and choices, here


24 Sep 2013 / 20 Tishrei 5774 0
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Margot Saffer is an olah chadasha writing from Jerusalem, Margot holds degrees in English, Media, and Psychology (cum laude), and a MPhil in Life-Writing. Her poetry, prose, journalism, and academic work have been published in three languages, on four continents. Her interests are social activism, giving voice to minority populations, and personal profiles.