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Hello, is this the Sukkah hotline?

September 21, 2010 – 8:00 am3 Comments

This time of year, California surely has better sukkah weather than southern Australia

By Anthony Frosh

For my wife and I, like many Australian Jews, the first Sunday after Yom Kippur is Sukkah building day.

Sukkah building used to require some knowledge of carpentry and ideally, some reliable contacts within the construction industry.  However, in recent times, with the proliferation of sukkah kits, one can thankfully get by with a mere bachelor’s degree in outdoor leisure (i.e. putting up tents).

The confined spaces of our first floor flat do not permit us to have a sukkah, but we share in the building and use of a sukkah at my makhatonim’s nearby residence.  Ours is a kit sukkah. For those who don’t know what I mean by a kit sukkah, imagine if IKEA sold sukkot – only without the exotic Scandinavian names  – “I can’t decide whether to buy the sukkahfloggen and the klutzige.

The sukkah kit also departs from IKEA standards when it comes to the thoroughness of the instructions. While IKEA instructions frequently get a bad rap, I personally think they are masterful documents that cover all aspects of assembly, and can be understood regardless of one’s language. Not so with the instructions that came with our sukkah kit.  It favours a less prescriptive approach, where in the tradition of Jewish texts, assembly method is more open to interpretation.

On the upside, our family-size sukkah kit has just survived its third assembly with the only problem being some wearing to the roll out schach. This is two more assemblies than the average piece of IKEA furniture is built to withstand.

In any case, while your sukkah kit may not come with the easiest to follow instructions, SukkahMart, the main sukkah kit retailer in Australia, offers a 24-hour hotline, at least according to one of its advertising flyers. Isn’t 24-hours a little bit overkill? If anyone is really assembling their sukkah at 3am, they need to be consulting with a sleep therapist, and not the guys from SukkahMart.

I must confess that I have not tried to call the hotline, not even during business hours.  However, I imagine a lengthy wait to speak to a human, as you go through all the automated prompts.  “…dial 2 if you require an emergency Etrog…”

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