Couple wins $3,600 for sukkah in Leichtag design contest


The votes have been tallied, and Sasha and Chris Varone of San Diego’s North Park community are the winners of the Sukkot at the Ranch Design Competition, sponsored by the Leichtag Foundation.

Their sukkah was chosen by the people’s choice in online and on-site voting. The design competition invited members of the community to reimagine the ancient structure known as a sukkah, which has been built during the Jewish harvest of Sukkot since biblical times.

The husband-and-wife architecture team designed their modern interpretation of the sukkah using plywood.

From their submission: “The seven sides of this Sukkah structure represent the seven days of the week and the seven year cycle. Once inside the Sukkah, one’s awareness of the outside world is diminished. The base of the Sukkah structure tapers inwards to harvest one’s thoughts, wishes and concerns. Conversely, the top tapers outwards to release them to the sky.”

The sukkah is traditionally erected for one week each autumn to commemorate the holiday of Sukkot, in celebration of and gratitude for the harvest. It is customary, within the temporary walls of the sukkah, to share meals, entertain, and rejoice.

The Leichtag Foundation presented the Varones with a $3,600 award. Three finalists were chosen by judges from the pool of 17 submissions to build their design. A team of volunteers built the sukkahs on Oct. 5 and the sukkahs were open to the public the following week for worship, art activities and the Sukkot at the Ranch event on Oct. 12, which attracted 1,800 guests.

This year’s themes were release and renewal, and the canvas to express these themes is the sukkah. Each sukkah was required to adhere to a list of guidelines, including that the structure be temporary; it must have at least 2 1/2 walls; it must be big enough to contain a table and most of a person’s body; and it must have a roof made of shade-providing organic materials through which a person can see the stars. For the entry form and full contest details, visit

The Ranch was purchased by the Leichtag Foundation in December 2012; it is a 67.5 acre property that amplifies the strategic focus areas of the Foundation and is a nexus to bring them all together.