Getting creative with your sukkah decorations this year? You’ve got serious competition—from Google.
That’s right: The search-engine giant is participating in the Festival of Booths this year, and they’re doing it Google-style. For the first time, two sukkahs, constructed to halachic-perfection, will be built on one of the balconies of Google’s New York headquarters in Chelsea.
Complete with an advanced video conferencing system powered by Google Hangout, android-themed hangings, lava lamps, exercise balls, lego-building stations, a live-cam showing how many people are in the sukkah at any given time and, of course, walls plastered with the Google colors, the Google sukkah promises to speed the ancient hut into the high-tech 21st century.
Though the sukkahs were built with the primary intention of servicing Jewglers (the colloquial term for Google’s Jewish employees), other Googlers (Goiyglers, if you will) are encouraged to drop by. QR codes will be posted around the sukkah, allowing employees to scan for more quick information about the religious history, symbolism and significance and sukkot. A lulav and esrog, the ritual palm branch and citrus fruit shaken on the holiday, will be on hand in both sukkahs for any and all Google employees to partake.
Efforts to make the sukkot holiday come alive at Google were headed by proud Jewgler, Eleanor Carmeli. Carmeli, who worked at Google’s California headquarters for several years before transferring to the New York office this past year, described the sukkah initiative as a “grassroots effort.” She networked with other Jewglers via an email listserv for Jewish employees across Google’s global offices.
“We entered the conversation with a sense of humility, realizing that sukkot is much lesser known than other Jewish holidays,” said Carmeli, referring to the first time she approached management with the request. “There’s not a lot of space in New York City, so we went in with low expectations.”
Not only was the sukkah initiative given two-thumbs up, it sparked a trend across Google offices. This year, Google offices in Pittsburgh, Boston, Argentina, Dublin and the Mountain View global headquarters in California will all be pitching sukkahs, with the New York Jewgler team leading the way. The video-conference call system will allow Jewglers from one Google sukkah to see and talk with Jewglers in another Google sukkah.
“It seems we lit a fire under other Jewglers,” said Carmeli, who mentored Jewglers in other offices about how to navigate limited space in order to procure a sukkah.
Culture Clubs across Google create a wide range of events, from movie nights and silent discos to cultural celebrations like the Hindu festival of Diwali, Moon Festivals, and the Chinese New Year. Employee groups including the Black Googlers Network, Women@, the Gayglers, Indus Googler Network, and Asian Googlers Network have all found a home at Google.
Meghan Casserly, Google’s head of culture communications, said in an interview via email that Google believes a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures translates into better products and services.
More exclusive details to follow in our upcoming print issue.