Foundation is looking for new ideas on old tradition

Foundation is looking for new ideas on old tradition
Participants from last year’s Sukkah build on the Ranch in Encinitas. This year the Leichtag Foundation is hosting a Sukkah design competition to new ideas on the tradition’s-old structures. Courtesy photo

ENCINITAS — The guidelines for building Sukkahs, a traditional Jewish structure, have existed for thousands and thousands of years.

Last year, the Leichtag Foundation built three of the structures on its grounds on Saxony Road, which captured the attentions and interests of the community.

The build served more as an expo than a competition, but this time around, the Leichtag Foundation will be looking for new and creative designers to submit plans in a competition to find the best designs for this fall’s upcoming build of the tradition’s-old structures.

A Sukkah is a temporary structure, explained Naomi Rapkin, director of strategic initiatives with the Leichtag Foundation.

The two-and-a-half sided huts are traditionally used during the harvest times when people were out in the fields for weeks at a time, gathering the fruits of the season, she added.

“Part of what we’re trying to do at the Leichtag Foundation and with the acquisition of the Ranch and inviting the whole community in to celebrate agricultural festivals with us is really about re-imagining Jewish tradition and reframing Jewish life for the whole community, reaching beyond the Jewish community,” Rapkin said.

Some of the inspiration behind the Leichtag event stemmed from the international design competition in New York City known as “Sukkah City.”

That annual contest has served to help re-imagine the traditional concept of Sukkahs.

And that’s what this year’s theme at the Ranch, the former Ecke Ranch property that the Leichtag Foundation purchased in December 2012, is all about.

All of the designers will be inspired by the theme of “Release, Renew and Re-imagine,” Rapkin said.

“The theme really comes from a concept in Jewish agricultural law called Shmita, which is that every seventh year your land and soil should rest, you should rest and debt should be released,” Rapkin said.

Yet, there’s also an interest in going beyond what that theme means agriculturally in Israel, where it’s observed, and examine what it means to think about taking a certain period of time to release and renew and re-imagine.

Design submissions will be accepted now through Aug. 18.

Three finalists will be selected Oct. 5 and the winning designs will be constructed during the weeklong celebration of Sukkot from Oct. 8 through Oct. 17.

Entry forms and guidelines are available online at


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