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Succah in the Sky

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With songs in Yiddish and Hebrew and some speeches nearly 100 Jewish communal, political and rabbinic leaders along with city and state officials celebrated the Succoth holiday in the “Succah in the Sky” atop the 50-story Grace Building at 43 West 42nd Street. As each male guest arrived. Jack D. Weiler, a realtor and philanthropist who is active in numerous Jewish affairs, personally escorted him to a corner of the colorfully decorated succah and gave him a lulav and esrog and asked him to make the traditional Succoth prayers.

The program today included a minute of silence in memory to the late Israeli President Zalman Shazar. Ambassador David Rivlin, Israel’s Consul General in New York, and Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, lauded the Israeli leader. (See separate story Page 4.)

The succah. which Weller calls “the world’s highest,” was gaily decorated with colored leaves and fruit. Outside the roof offered a magnificent view of New York City which Weller urged everyone to see. Weiler, noting the warm sunny weather today, said that last week it was cold and windy in the succah and the guests had to wear coats. Robert H. Arnow, Weiler’s son-in-law. said this gave the people who attended a chance to know the discomfit and cold of a succah. He said he was “inspired by the experience.”


Weiler, who along with his son, Alan G. Weiler, and Arrow, hosted the buffet luncheon, said the idea for the succah, now in Its third year of existence, came during an Israel Bond luncheon at the United Nations given by Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah four years ago. He said at the time Judge Edward Silver observed It would have been nice to hold the meeting in a succah.

Weiler replied that his firm of Swig, Weller and Arnow was constructing a 50-story building and he would put a succah on top. Silver, Rabbi Rackman and Rabbi Harold H. Gordon, executive vice-president of the New York Board of Rabbis then were asked to make up a committee to establish the succah.

Speaking at today’s luncheon, Rivlin said the succah not only provided a “good, warm, friendly atmosphere,” but also a spiritual elation because of its height. He stated that by preserving and continuing the Jewish faith as demonstrated by the succah the Jewish people will overcome their difficulties. Dr. Samuel Belkin, president of Yeshiva University, said a succah symbolized the Jewish people, since they are an eternal people with many temporary abodes.

Rabbi Rackman said Judaism has survived through “creative chutzpah.” He praised the Weiler family for having the creative chutzpah to educate the Metropolitan New York Jewish community on the importance of having a succah


The luncheon was a social affair but the succah has been used throughout the week for various organizational functions. Weiler noted that at an Israel Bond luncheon last Thursday $1.6 million in bonds were sold. Israeli Finance Minister Yehoshua Rabinowitz will attend a National United Jewish Appeal Cash Conference in the succah tomorrow. Participants last week included the UJA Women’s Division, students from the Manhattan Day School and a group of volunteers for Israel from the Zionist Youth Council. Deputy Mayor Judah Gribetz represented City Hall at today’s luncheon.

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