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Sukkah Stories: Tales from the Midwest

Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2018 by Becca Thomas

Rabbi Jay Moses, Vice President of the Wexner Foundation, held a meeting in his sukkah alongside Wexner Heritage Alum Danny Kayne (Columbus 93).

The festival of Sukkot may have ended, but we wanted to highlight a few ways Wexner alumni and staff took time to enjoy the holiday and celebrate with family and friends in their sukkahs. Not even a “Suknado,” the powerful thunderstorm that came through Columbus, could stop the joy.  

WHP Alum Jenifer Newmark (St. Louis 15) participated in a lulav shake-off along with her husband John and their twin boys Martin and Samuel as part of the United Hebrew Congregation in St. Louis. Jenifer is one of the vice presidents there and her sons are in kindergarten and just started religious school, and were thrilled to be in their first lulav shake-off!


For WHP Alum Kenny Steinman (Columbus 11) and his wife, WGF Alum Robin Judd (Class 5), this Sukkot was particularly memorable.

"Sukkot is my favorite holiday. As Robin will attest, I've taken some pride that our Sukkah design and materials have lasted 22 years, and that our annual Sukkah party has never been canceled by weather. All that changed early this morning when a small tornado tossed the entire structure and wrapped it around a neighbor's fence. At least we knew it was kosher. A Sukkah is supposed to be temporary and fragile — just like life. I learned a valuable lesson in humility and am so grateful that no one was injured, that trees can regrow and that our roof can be repaired. Best wishes to all for a safe, healthy and yes, (still) happy new year."


Sukkot in Columbus was a bit rainy, highlighting one of the many differences between Sukkot in Israel and North America, but the family of Rabbi Ben Berger (Director, Wexner Heritage Program) still found a few moments to eat, learn and play board games in their Sukkah! Pictured below are his 4 daughters Tovah (11), Avital (9), Eliana (8) and Nili (5).


For Stefanie Zelkind, Director of the Wexner Graduate Program, part of her celebration included getting her guests involved in a game. Her son Ari, age 7, created a scavenger hunt where guests young and old searched for hidden numbers (5,7,7,9 -- hint: the Hebrew year), Hebrew letters and symbols throughout their sukkah.

Julie Lyss, (WHP Seattle 12), had her daughter Shira and her high school pals to eat in the sukkah and learn some high holiday traditions. Breaking a stereotypical Seattle weather pattern, they had the driest Sukkot in  memory — it rained only one night during the holiday!

It's not too late! Wexner's Director of Communications Becca Thomas invites you to submit your sukkah photos to supplement these images. Please email her at


Becca joined The Wexner Foundation as the Director of Communications in 2018. Growing up in rural Ohio, Becca found herself to be the only Jewish student in the school district, a fact that only strengthened her resolve to carve out a Jewish identity among the cornfields. This materialized in having Bat Mitzvah lessons via phone, getting involved with the Hillel at Ohio University, and taking adult education classes once settled in Columbus. Becca earned a degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and Spanish from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. From 2006-2008, Becca served as Account Executive at Paul Werth Associates, one of the top Public Relations agencies in Columbus. For nearly ten years Becca led the communications efforts and directed the largest Race for the Cure in the country at Susan G. Komen® Columbus. When not tweeting, Becca can be found enjoying the fresh air with her husband Luke and running after Evey and Ari, their two young, adorable and wily children.