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St James's Piccadilly has kosher sukkah

17 October 2014

FRANCESCA BALDWIN

FASHIONED from empty plastic bottles lit in neon green, the sukkah  at St James's, Piccadilly, in London, was not exactly as envisaged in Leviticus 23. But the roof was made from vegetation, the spirit of hospitality was on show, and, with the aid of the musical ensemble Don Kippur, a party was in full swing on Tuesday.

The structure was made in collaboration with the Jewish Social Action Forum, the West London Synagogue, the Trussell Trust, and Gift, as part of a week-long celebration of the festivals of Harvest and Sukkot, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles,which recalls the 40 years when the Israelites lived in temporary shelters en route to the Promised Land.

The collaboration came about after the Bethlehem Unwrapped events at St James's last Christmas, when a replica separation wall was erected outside the church (News, 20 December), an event criticised at the time by the Board of Deputies of British Jews as "highly biased".

The Board's interfaith and social-action consultant, Rabbi Natan Levy, said on Wednesday: "On both sides there was felt to be a need to start a dialogue, after a real breakdown of communication . . . about what had happened and why it had happened. We then moved on to something much more productive: 'What do we do now?'"

Jewish families who discovered it had been "shocked and surprised that there was a kosher sukkah in the middle of a church in central London. . . To put a sukkah in a church dedicated to issues of hunger and justice is not something that happens every day."

The Rector, the Revd Lucy Winkett, said: "Visitors have been struck by this visible statement of joint social action, especially as we are raising awareness of poverty in our city and collecting for our local foodbank."

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