Last week we reported on a sukkah in Teaneck that was on the flatbed of a giant truck. It caught our photographer’s attention and captivated local children, but what was its story? We promised to investigate, and investigate we did.
We spoke to Robert Grunstein, the man behind the sukkah.
It began innocently enough, with the decision to this year erect a military-themed sukkah resembling a barracks in his back yard. He first discovered creative sukkah design when he was on kibbutz in Israel after high school, when he saw a sukkah made from a stack of giant bales of hay with tractor wheels as windows.
“That got me thinking,” he said, and he adopted Sukkot as his favorite holiday. Over the years, his sukkot have ranged from Oz-themed to a mylar-walled spaceship to, in a year when Sukkot fell in November on the eve of Election Day, a polling booth. This year’s barracks would have been no big deal, except he happened to visit a friend a couple of weeks before the holiday who happened to own a surplus military troop carrier. He realized that it could easily be converted into a sukkah, so he borrowed it, removed the canvas top, put up a bamboo roof, and built a staircase to climb into it.
He did drive it around town a little for the sake of his children, but found it difficult to drive. There is a reason that while Chabad occasionally drives sukkah-mobiles through New York City, they don’t use troop carriers.