In ordinary times, the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot brings visitors to dine with friends and family in a sukkah, a decorated “hut” set up temporarily on lawns, patios or balconies.
Many communities organize a “sukkah hop” so people can share a festive l’chaim or a snack in a variety of neighborhood sukkot.
But these aren’t ordinary times. Israel is in lockdown amid a raging pandemic, and only nuclear family members are permitted in a sukkah.
“So I thought, why not do some virtual sukkah hopping?” decided Tzippi Schechet, a resident of Nof Ayalon in central Israel.
“I like to build bridges across the divide, and this is a way of kicking politics out of the visuals and unifying Israelis. We can all agree on what is a gorgeous vista,” says Schechet.
Right now, the gorgeous vista from her mirpeset is dotted with colorful sukkot sporting fabric or wooden walls and greenery or bamboo scattered across the top so that the sun and stars shine through.
“View from My Mirpeset,” the Facebook group she started on September 23, serves as a forum for sharing photos from the mirpeset, the Hebrew word for “porch” or “balcony.”
“So many people are sitting in their sukkah alone, and seeing someone else’s sukkah creates a sense of camaraderie despite the limitations that lockdown imposes,” Schechet tells ISRAEL21c.
More than 600 people joined the Facebook group in a short time, and not only from Israel. Among members are American Christians who’ve thanked Schechet for showing Sukkot scenes they can’t enjoy in person this year.
The popularity of the site “is a testament to people wanting distractions during this lockdown period,” Schechet says.
When Sukkot ends this Friday night (October 9), the project will go on.
“I plan to continue it indefinitely. We’ll branch out to sharing your life on your mirpeset during lockdown. Let others do some armchair traveling.”
“We are a family that goes out and about. The only way to do that these days is to travel vicariously,” Schechet concludes.