Mapping Georgetown: Interfaith Understanding of the Sukkah

Did you know Kesher Israel is the only historic orthodox synagogue in its original location in the District of Columbia? And they’re proud to be Georgetown’s synagogue.

We had the pleasure of meeting Rabbi Hyim Shafner of Kesher Israel when he gathered with our Pastor, Fr. Kevin Gillespie and parishioners for a very interesting and heartwarming discussion of our religious similarities and differences after a Sunday morning Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown.

I have also noticed the sukkah set up at Rose Park, year after year around the time of Yom Kippur, without knowing the story behind it. So, wasn’t it a happy coincidence when our Mapping Story project received a story from Rabbi Hyim Shafner about the Jewish sukkah?

Thank you, Georgetown’s Kesher Israel Synagogue, for all of your hard work, dedication and effort and for bringing your traditions and faith to Georgetown! And, thank you, Hyim, for sharing this story! It is truly an honor adding it to our collection.

Kesher Israel members erecting a sukkah in Rose Park.

Rabbi Shafner and Kesher Israel sent us some photos and wrote the following [in verbatim] on our Mapping Georgetown card:

The sukkah is a temporary structure with a roof of branches or bamboo that represents the ancient jewish people’s travel through the desert from Egypt to Israel. The Bible commands in the book of exodus that this hut be erected outside for 7 days each fall and that jewish people eat their meals under its shade.   

Kesher Israel: the Georgetown synagogue has erected one in Georgetown since its founding in 1911.  Annually, this has been built in the kesher Israel courtyard at 2801 N St. Starting with the hiring of kesher’s new rabbi Hyim Shafner, we began erecting a second sukkah one block from the congregation in Rose Park at 27th & N streets to accommodate the growing numbers of young congregants who live in apartments where they cannot build a sukkah. 

Kesher is proud to be the Georgetown synagogue and the only historic orthodox synagogue in its original location in the District of Columbia.   

Attached are a few photos of the Rose Park sukkah


This year, the Sukkot pilgrimage festival commanded in the Torah is celebrated from Sept. 20 to 27. Happy Sukkot to you, Kesher Israel!

To see Kesher Israel’s Mapping Georgetown story, go to

We invite you to add your stories to our Mapping Georgetown collection. Blank templates can be printed from the home page of, picked up from the Georgetown Public Library or by contacting

To learn more about the Mapping Georgetown project, visit

Marilyn Butler can be reached at




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