The Sinai Sukkah Sanctuary Sleep-in took place on Tuesday 14 October, to raise funds for Abigail Housing, an asylum seekers project which provides housing, food and support to people in this situation. The two shared houses in Bradford and one shared house in Leeds provide a home to those who would otherwise be living on the streets.
Pippa Brook, of Sinai Synagogue Leeds, who co-ordinated the Sleep-in, said: “The eight of us who slept out included Sinai’s Assistant Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz, and Sarita Robinson, who travelled from Hull to be with us. We didn’t have a comfortable night, but we made the most of it – and we only had to sleep out for one night, unlike those we’re aiming to help.”
Gwynneth Lewis, Sinai’s Director of Education and one of those sleeping out, said, ‘It was quite an experience, from listening to Daniel, the representative from Abigail Housing to singing, punctuated with yells of “that was my eye!” as water dripped from the schach (greenery) forming the roof of the sukkah.”
“Over £1000.00 has been raised so far, and there is still time to give,” added Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz.
The event was all the more poignant as it coincided with a campaign to stop the deportation of an asylum seeker who is a friend of several Sinai members.
Pippa continued: “It is gratifying to be able to demonstrate what we, as a community, are doing to exemplify one of our core aims, tikkun olam (healing the world) and to receive so much support in doing it. It wasn’t meant to be a party but we did have a lot of laughs. We know that what we did is nothing like the reality of being homeless, but it helped people think about those realities and raised money for really homeless people. Matt Thornfield, one of the sleepers out, delivered Sinai’s High Holy Day Appeal this year. He reminded the community on Yom Kippur that if we were feeling hungry and uncomfortable, it was for one day only; the next day we would be well fed and comfortable. That is so true, and spending one night in a cold, wet sukkah, with friends, is really not a big deal.”
Find out more about Abigail Housing and if you would like to contribute to Sinai’s appeal, please contact the synagogue office on 0113 2665256 for further information.