Say you’re visiting Cyprus during Sukkot and want to find a sukkah to have a meal in. Or you’ve found yourself in Dublin. Or you’re new to the Washington area and don’t know where to find a sukkah.
You might try localsukkah.org, which this year lists 336 sukkot in 26 countries.
The registry is the brainchild of Avi Vorchheimer, who started localsukkah.org in 1994 in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia.
“I did not originally contemplate arranging a worldwide service,” he said in an email exchange from Melbourne. “The internet was barely heard of back then.”
He came up with the idea after he set up a sukkah at work, and his employer mentioned that his friends who worked nearby probably would have come there if they had known about it.
“I knew that such a list had to be run continually by one person, and that it had to be free from being perceived as relating to any particular section of the community,” Vorchheimer said. “I decided to do it myself.”
The sukkah service has an app, but it’s only for Apple devices in the United States.
Each year, Vorchheimer reaches out to groups and congregations that build sukkot and want to host visitors to celebrate the holiday, which this year begins at sunset on Oct. 4.
“This creates a tremendous spirit of achdus [Jewish unity], where Jews who may never have met before can celebrate together,” he said.
The site has six listings under Maryland and Virginia. One is Chabad of Anne Arundel County in Annapolis.
“I think it’s an important, part of the holiday to bring people in to celebrate together as a community,” said Hindy Light of Chabad of Anne Arundel County. “And community doesn’t only mean people who live in close proximity. Community means all the Jewish people no matter where they’re coming from.”
“The point of a sukkah is to have guests,” said Chana Raichik, educational director of the Chabad of Upper Montgomery County in Gaithersburg, another participant in the registry. “We want people to be able to do one of the most beautiful mitzvahs in world and just stepping into a sukkah is doing a mitzvah.”
Chabad-Lubavitch of Northern Virginia has been on Vorchheimer’s registry for many years, according to Rabbi Shalom Deitsch. He said localsukkah.org sends 30 to 60 people to his sukkah each year, 85 percent of whom are travelers coming from outside the area.
If you’re going to be in Dublin, localsukkah.org will point you to Dublin Hebrew Congregation on Rathfarnham Road.
And in Cyprus, it will advise you to come to the north, or Turkish, part of the divided island. There you’ll find Chabad of North Cyprus in the town of Karaoglanoglu.
Vorchheimer said his sukkah service has widened his world.
“I take pleasure in knowing that I can be of assistance to fellow Jews on the other side of the world, whom I have never met and whilst I may even be asleep.”