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Harlem Wanishi Sukkah

The Harlem Wanishi Sukkah

By Elan Cadiz

Commissioned by JCC Harlem in collaboration with Art In FLUX

October 13 through October 22, 2019

For the 2019 JCC Harlem Morningside Sukkah, Elan met with The Marlene Meyerson JCC
Manhattan Director of the Center for Jewish Living, Rabbi Abigail Treu, and JCC Harlem
leadership to review ideas that were being explored this year such as thankfulness, the harvest,
fragility, unity, community and peace. They discussed what these ideas mean in relation to land
and home. A sukkah is defined as a temporary dwelling built to commemorate the time the
Israelites spent in the desert after they were freed from slavery. The sukkah's name is a
combination of words that connect it to the space it will occupy and an acknowledgement of
Harlem’s original inhabitants, the Lenape. “Wanishi” is the Lenape word for thank you. Elan
sourced materials readily available in her Harlem community and her home to emphasize the
structure’s construction being built from familiar materials that could be found in one’s home.
She collected community donations of floral fabrics and visited 99-cent stores to embellish the
exterior and interior of the sukkah. It was important that the outside be special to look at but also
reflective of the huts purpose, a temporary dwelling for sharing meals, prayer and
contemplation. The Harlem Wanishi Sukkah is meant to be like a jewel where the larger
community can come together in peace and beauty, a space for all tired travelers to sit for a
moment in special thankfulness.

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