The Grandview Woodland Food Connection/Britannia Community Centre in partnership with the Jewish Museum and Archives was very pleased to host the Sukkot Holiday celebration at Britannia on Oct 10th providing community a wonderful opportunity to experience this wonderful Jewish holiday. Over 120 people joined us in celebration, learning, and sharing in a wonderful Syrian dinner By Tayybeh that was held in the šxʷqʷeləwən ct Carving Centre.
Each year in October, the Jewish holiday of Sukkot is celebrated. It is both agricultural in nature, celebrating the harvest, as well as historical, commemorating the forty-year period during which the Jewish people roamed the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt.
The word “Sukkot” refers to the temporary dwellings or Sukkahs that were lived in during the exodus and in which all are invited to live and eat during this holiday period in memory of the “period of wandering”. Sukkahs are built with certain design principles including exposure to the natural elements, and symbolizing human fragility along with resilience and community as family and community gather together in the Sukkah to share food and sleep.
As a part of our Sukkot event, we commissioned an architectural firm to create an original sukkah specifically for our event. Following an artist call out, FSOARK Architect Inc. created a gorgeous Sukkah called eyepiece (see photos below) and described here in the artist statement.
“Eyepiece is comprised of interconnected triangular wooden frames, in which foraged plant specimens are cast in thin lenses of bioplastic, creating a completely biodegradable structure. The design is inspired by the idea that a sukkah roof is protective yet permeable – an “imperfect” covering that offers the occupants an intimate connection with the shared cosmos. The duality of a sukkah roof is the kernel of the design concept; it functions both as a microscope through which we examine our own faiths, as well as a wide angle lens broadening our perspectives on the faiths of our neighbours. The plant materials that form the roof of Eyepiece include species native to BC, all of which form part of Coastal Salish peoples’ traditional and contemporary diet and cultural use. The selection not only embraces the Indigenous peoples’ plant knowledge and cultural heritage, but also draws our attention to the subtle beauty of our land, and the fragile balance that allows these plants to thrive. By presenting a montage of specimens mimicking the setting of a natural history museum, we encourage the occupants to reexamine the deeper and broader meaning of our existence, one plant at a time”.
Sukkot expresses universal themes of harvest celebration, agricultural origins, community, cultural identity, along with human vulnerability both historical and contemporary including displacement, migration, and colonization to name a few. Interestingly, Sukkot offers close parallels with the struggles of Indigenous communities to reclaim their land and cultural identity. As such, the Britannia Sukkot Festival brought together community members from diverse cultures to celebrate the harvest through a community feast and sharing in both a Jewish Sukkot and Coast Salish led ceremonies, recognizing and acknowledging that we are on unceded and occupied Coast Salish territory.
Photos by Wendy Oberlander and Ian Marcuse