Oded Hirsch, Halfman, 2009. Chromogenic print, 40 x 50 in. Courtesy of the artist & Thierry Goldberg Gallery, New York.
Every fall, just after the holiday of Yom Kippur, Jews build a sukkah—an outdoor booth, open on one side, with a roof porous enough to see the stars. And here (traditionally) they eat and sleep for eight days, making a point of inviting in strangers for meals, and trusting in the fragility of the structure and the safety of their surroundings. Not unlike Burning Man, where each summer thousands of people set up temporary homes in the Nevada desert as part of a pop-up utopia, the ancient sukkah reminds us of the possibilities of a better world.
Daniel Schifrin is Writer-in-Residence at the CJM and host of its podcast series “The Space Between.” He is a columnist for both the J: Jewish News Weekly of Northern California and the New York Jewish Week, and his articles and essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and McSweeney’s. In 2007 he was a visiting scholar at Stanford University, and he has just finished his first novel, a comedy about chess, opera and orthodontia.