Jun 14, 1997 - 11:46 -
I have a question:
Esther, What a wonderful project! You can make a sukkah in many different ways.
The frame can be constructed of anything: wooden two-by-fours nailed or screwed together (or bolted reusably with wing-nuts and washers); PVC or ABS plastic plumbing pipes and fittings glued together; wide bamboo posts tied together; metal electrical conduit pipe clamped together -- anything. The frame can be a permanent or temporary structure; if temporary it can be reusable or not.
The sukkah needs to have at least three walls, one of which can be the side of a permanent building. The walls are attached to the frame any way you like, and can be made of anything that doesn't move in the breeze. They do not need to be solid but they can't have openings bigger than three t'fochim (about ten inches). So you could make wall panels out of 4' by 8' panelling (or T-111 exterior siding) nailed onto a frame of two-by-threes (lighter and cheaper than two-by-fours). Or from bannisters, chain-link fences, picket-fences, tarpaulins (if stretched very tight over the frame so they don't move in the breeze), etc.
The roof must be covered with material that once was growing from the ground but which is now completely cut off from the ground, such as cornstalks, bamboo, or branches. This covering material is called s'chach. (An outing to pick s'chach can be as much fun for children as decorating the sukkah.) Anything still attached to the ground can't be present in the roof even partially (e.g., a grapevine ). Horizontal supports for holding up the s'chach may cross the sukkah and be made of any material (2x4, metal, plastic, etc.) but can't be growing from the ground (e.g., a horizontal limb of a tree).
The sukkah must be located under open sky. No branches may pass above it. If the air-space above is partially obstructed, the sukkah may still be "kosher" but you can't use (i.e., eat under, sit under, wave lulav under) that portion of the sukkah. (The offending portions of your trees can pruned for s'chach, garnering a "double-mitzvah".) The s'chach should be distributed approximately uniformly over the sukkah; it must permit some light through it, but must block at least half the light. (Simply look at the shadow of the roof and throw more on until you see distinctly more shade than sun.)
My experience with public sukkah-raising events suggests that someone in charge should have built and dissassembled the sukkah once beforehand. (This is true even if using a prefabricated kit.) Depending on the age and number of participants, the frame may be assembled in advance of the official start time. At the event, there should be an opportunity for everyone present to have a share in the mitzvah, even if only to drive a single nail or to make and hang a decoration.
The sukkah-raising party is only the last step in a process that can begin as early as neilah of Yom Kippur! In keeping with the ideal of linking the events of the calendar, many Jews symbolically start sukkah construction by plucking something for s'chach immediately after breaking the fast.
The temporary nature of the sukkah is established by removing the s'chach after the holiday.
Pre-fabricated sukkah-kits are advertised on the internet from companies at:
I have no experience with, nor financial interest in, any of them.
I hope this information is useful.