Farm to Sukkah: Can You Build a Sukkah with an Elephant?

On October 15th Beantown Jewish Gardens held our 6th annual Farm to Sukkah dinner in partnership with the Riverway Project at Temple Israel Boston. This sold-out event brought together Jewish adults in their 20’s and 30’s from throughout the Boston area and with a wide variety of backgrounds and Jewish experiences.

This year included an extra surprise – authentic Chinese dumplings, freshly made from a secret family recipe by a grad student attending this event for the first time. Along with the dumplings, the cooking group prepared a wide variety of vegetarian dishes: bruschetta, squash and chickpea salad, quinoa salad with black beans and kale, brussels sprout salad with apples and pomegranate, mujadara, moroccan carrot and date salad, and for dessert, baked apples!

Baked apples

After enjoying this hearty meal, Temple Israel’s Rabbi Jen Gubitz led a lively discussion about how the Torah and Talmud instruct us to build a Sukkah. The Torah merely directs us to build a hut with a roof made of plant matter. But what about the walls? The Torah doesn’t elaborate, so the rabbis of the Talmud shared their many conflicting beliefs of what is an acceptable and kosher sukkah, which was the topic of our discussion – namely, can one use a large animal to form a wall of their Sukkah?

Large animals are hard to come by, but they had access to camels and, apparently, elephants. Rabbi Yehuda said that you can use an elephant as a sukkah wall, while Rabbi Meir says you can’t, on the grounds that your sukkah might get up and walk away. Rabbi Zeira suggests that you could securely tie down the elephant, to make escape impossible. Also acceptable is a dead elephant, as they are still sufficiently tall when laying down — whether anyone could handle sleeping next to a dead elephant for a week is another story, but it’s kosher!

Overall, this year’s Farm to Sukkah event was a great success and enabled those in attendance to eat farm-fresh food, make new friends, learn about Sukkot and become closer to the greater Boston Jewish community.

Click here to see more pictures from the event.

By Natanya Auerbach, BJG Board Member