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October 20, 2019 2:18 am

Severe Storm Flattens Sukkahs From New Jersey to Boston

avatar by Ira Stoll

Feature

15-year-old Adin Stanleigh cleans palm branches used to cover their sukka, or ritual booth, used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot in his yard, in Jerusalem October 11, 2019. Picture taken October 11, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.

A fierce wind and rainstorm wreaked havoc on sukkahs from New Jersey to Boston, leaving a path of destruction that had Jews rescheduling holiday events for indoors and looking back to the Talmud for guidance on Sukkot and wind.

“The winds have destroyed our Sukkah. But our building is intact,” Northeastern University Hillel posted on Facebook, inviting students at the Boston-based university to attend a “Hebrew in the Sukkah” event that would not be in a sukkah after all. A graphic image posted on Facebook showed the sukkah looking like a tornado had blown through.

A Twitter account of news from Lakewood, NJ, reported that a sukkah there flew nearly 35 foot through the air and broke the window of a house before landing.

Rich Parr, a pollster, posted an image of his Northampton, MA sukkah that was flattened by the storm. His wife Molly Parr, a writer and cook, told The Algemeiner, “We’re bummed. Rich hoped to rebuild it but reports that some of the poles were bent. My girls are sad because it’s one of our favorite holidays and they worked so hard to make colorful chains to decorate. I’m hosting about a dozen people for Shabbat dinner, but I guess we’ll move it inside instead.”

A sukkah in Concord, MA was also destroyed.

The National Weather Service in Boston reported wind gusts as high as 90 miles an hour in the storm and rain totals as high as four inches. Eversource reported that more than 90,000 customers in Massachusetts lost power.

As usual, the sages of the Talmud anticipated the situation, as a passage of the tractate Sukkah, 23a puts it: “Abaye said: Everyone agrees that in a case where the sukka is unable to withstand a typical land wind, the sukka is of no consequence and it is not even a temporary residence. If it is able to withstand even an atypical land wind, everyone agrees that the sukka is fit. Where they disagree is in a case where the sukka is able to withstand a typical land wind but is unable to withstand an atypical land wind.”

Ninety miles an hour is certainly atypical, but as a longtime resident of the northeastern US, the experience of having sukkot disrupted by the storms known as nor’easters is frequent enough to make me yearn to celebrate the holiday somewhere, like Israel, where the climate is more hospitable.

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