THE TASK OF building Rabbi Lenny Levin’s sukkah is biblical. “You need to be able to read Hebrew and know which biblical characters go with which character,” said his wife, Margie Freeman.
For example, the corners labeled (in Hebrew) Abraham and Sarah go together. Isaac is paired with Rebecca, and Jacob is a center panel that’s matched up with two panels, one marked Rachel and the other labeled Leah.
The South Orange family, members of Kol Rina, has built this autumnal-themed sukkah every year since 1988. It was decorated this year with the assistance of daughter Rachel Levin.
“We really enjoy this holiday,” said Freeman, who likes to observe the birds through her sukkah’s lattice walls.
The Levins aren’t the only family that appreciates a creative sukkah. For the second year, Belinda Ehrlich has designed a “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”-themed sukkah. The Ehrlich family belongs to Congregation Ahawas Achim B’nai Jacob & David in West Orange.
Ehrlich was moved to pay tribute to Gene Wilder, who played the quirky candy maker in the 1971 classic film, after his death in 2016. “The news of his death was like hearing that Willy Wonka himself had died,” she said.
She chose the theme in an effort “to hold onto a childhood favorite” that is also beloved by adults.
Real and fake candy adorn the sukkah walls and tables inside. There’s a single golden ticket posted on a wall and “fizzy lifting drinks” (aka seltzer) available for guests. Daughters Emma Ray and Sofi painted golden goose eggs — all good ones, of course.
As Wonka said in the movie, “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”