How long do these sukkahs stay up for? Wikipedia tells me “a week” but my neighbours on both sides have had theirs in the backyard for nearly a month now. Maybe they’re following some secret, extra-pious rule like the Vatican do by waiting until February to clear away their nativity tat.
Barely cognisant of my own religion, let alone anyone else’s, I was intrigued when the neighbours started constructing what appeared to be a large plywood box on their back lawn. For a few days I imagined that Scott Walker was about to start recording a new album in my street, or that the local kids who play in the yard were about to be saturated with orgones. No-one had ever told me that the Jewish religion obliges its followers to perform annual DIY.
You’ll have noticed the railings above the roof, showing that the local sukkahs have been adapted to suit British conditions: a tarpaulin can easily be drawn over the traditional branches covering the roof, to keep out the rain. This also explained the unusual addition permanently attached to the shed on the other next-door neighbours’ house.
When I first moved in I noticed the translucent roof mounted on pulleys and assumed the residents were keen amateur astronomers, who kept a telescope handy for backyard stargazing. Nope. Another retractable roof to keep the branches dry. Although it does seem a bit like cheating to have a permanent lean-to on your house and just chuck some branches on top when sukkot rolls around each year for Instant Sukkah.