April 20, 2024
Close this search box.
Close this search box.
April 20, 2024
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A Sampling of Notable Central NJ Sukkot

Everyone’s family’s private sukkah has a certain charm and beauty because its construction reflects their efforts and the sukkah serves as the location of family meals, gatherings with friends, visits from sukkah hoppers, and other fondly recalled experiences over an eight-day chag each year.

Some sukkot, however, gain a certain renown in their neighborhoods. Friends mention them to other friends. Neighbors point them out to visitors. These sukkot just stand out.

Weeks ago I put out a call for significant sukkot in Middlesex County. This article showcases five remarkable sukkot I visited as a result.

The Katzenstein family sukkah, Highland Park

When they were in Israel in the spring of 2002, Chaya and David Katzenstein went to the Beit Hatfutsot museum in Tel Aviv to view an exhibit on sukkot throughout the world and throughout history. They were particularly impressed with one sukkah that featured a large mural of the Beit Hamikdash and the ingathering of the exiles. David decided that he wanted a similar mural in his sukkah, so when he got back home he asked his eldest daughter Naomi to ask her friend Rena Ginsberg, a budding artist, if she would create one for them. Rena agreed and spent a good part of the summer outlining and then painting a scene of the Beit Hamikdash and the surrounding countryside on eight large wooden boards.

The Katzensteins loved the resulting work and have featured it in their sukkah ever since, thanking Rena (now Rena Ginsberg Ray, married and living in Bergenfield) whenever someone asks who created the mural. This past year the Katzensteins renovated their backyard deck and added a permanent frame for the sukkah; they made sure that the new frame would accommodate the treasured mural.

The Kolb family sukkah, Highland Park

Suzette and Steven Kolb’s sukkah reflects the artistic inclination and do-it-yourself spirit of their family. Steven designed the sukkah himself, based on a family tradition, and builds it each year using two-by-two and two-by-four wooden boards, canvas, string, and wild grown reeds harvested locally. He reports that it takes roughly an hour to assemble the sukkah and has undergone periodic revisions in size and material over the past 13 years. This year the sukkah features artwork from Israeli artist Yaacov Kaszemacher from Tzfat (on the right), Steven’s father, Herbert Kolb (on the left), and their two children, Ari and Jennifer.

Thank you, Suzette, for the tip on this sukkah.

The Ledvina family sukkah, Highland Park

Kayla and Jordan Ledvina moved to Highland Park in 2014 and lived in the Orchard Gardens apartments. One of the first things this newlywed couple did was to buy a dark panel sukkah kit from Judaica Plaza in Lakewood. When they purchased their own home in town the next year and their family started to grow, they found that the side of their home could serve as one of the walls and the sukkah could be dramatically expanded. Now they have a two-room sukkah with a large dining area (which can accommodate 25 guests) and a comfortable “living room” with four cushioned chairs and a bookshelf filled with sefarim.

Thank you to Miryam Block for the tip on this sukkah.

The Shmuel family sukkah, Edison

Penina and Assaf Shmuel created a large new sukkah for their family in 2018, encompassing a broad paved backyard area. The sukkah uses PVC pipes, 2×2 wooden boards, vinyl for the walls, copious amounts of X-mas lights ordered from Amazon, and synthetic flowers from Michaels. All of their five children, ages nine to 17, help build the sukkah. Their sukkah is the scene of a large annual Simchat Beit HaShoeva on the second night of Sukkot, which runs from 9:30 p.m. till 2 a.m. At this year’s event the sukkah easily accommodated four to five dozen seated guests and another one to two dozen standing. The sukkah also hosted a Rutgers Jewish Experience outreach event last year.

The Shmuel family reports that it takes about five hours, over a few Sundays, to put up the sukkah. It is decorated with dozens of family photos and school holiday art projects from the children.

Thank you to Avi Fogel for the tip on this sukkah.

The Ukraincik family sukkah, Edison

In 2003, when Merri and Dr. Miro Ukraincik moved with their three sons into their house, they needed a sukkah. Merri wanted one that would last for a year or two before they made a sturdier sukkah. Miro, originally from Croatia, asked a good friend, Zack, a non-Jewish contractor also from Croatia, to design and help build one. They used PVC pipes, tarps, 2 x 4 boards, bungee cords, bamboo matts, and astro-turf for the floors. Merri loved the results and they’ve been using it ever since.

Every year, Merri adds a little something. There’s greenery from the dollar store and numerous representations of a white bird, because they collect birds. The large print of Jerusalem arrived a few years ago. The disco ball came last year.

By Harry Glazer

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles