Panoramic Sukka of Wrigley Field..
(photo credit: ANDY ALPERN)
Imagine two extremely improbable and rare events – the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series and simultaneously being in Israel and Wrigley Field. In what seemed to be a redemptive moment in history, both these events occurred in October 2016. The first we know about, but the second took place in Andy Alpern’s Panoramic Sukkah in the artists’ quarter of Safed’s Old City.
Alpern, 50, originally from Chicago, is a photographer specializing in panoramic images of Israel. A few years ago he created a product called the Panoramic Sukkah (www.PanoramicSukkah.com), a 360-degree photo printed on fabric that forms the entire wall of a sukka. Most of the Panoramic Sukkahs Alpern produces have images of Israeli vistas on them – the Mahaneh Yehuda market, the Western Wall, the Jerusalem skyline. Most of his customers are overseas, and for anyone who can’t be in Israel for Sukkot, his Panoramic Sukkah is a pretty nifty second-best.
Alpern, however, lives in Israel. When the Cubs made the playoffs last year, Alpern, a diehard Cubs fan, printed a Wrigley Field Panoramic Sukkah for his own personal use.
“Years ago,” he recalls, “I had taken my nephew to a game and shot a panorama at Wrigley Field. When it became clear that I couldn’t attend the playoffs in person, I opted for the virtual option – to print it up as a sukka wall! I’m pretty sure it’s the only baseball field sukka in the world.”
During the historic 1984 playoffs (the first the Cubs had made since 1945), Alpern worked at Wrigley Field as a vendor. Keeping up tradition, he served a lot of beer, peanuts and hot dogs to his Sukkot guests.
“My big boys and I slept in the sukka, and would wake up in the middle of the night to watch the games. They seemed to do better when we were watching, so it was a big responsibility! The last playoff game took place during Shmini Atzeret, so we had to wait until motzei hag
[after the holiday ended] to learn that the Cubs would be going on to the World Series!”
Taking inspiration from Honi Hame’agel, a first century BCE sage famous for drawing a circle on the ground during a severe drought and refusing to step out of it until God sent rain, Alpern decided to leave the Wrigley Field Sukkah standing until the Cubs won the World Series.
“While I didn’t refuse to leave my sukka, we did continue to watch the games in there. It was a seven-game series, and starting to get cold up here in the Galilee mountains, but our faith was strong, and we stayed in our Wrigley Field Sukkah cheering the Cubs to their historic bottom-of-the-tenth victory!” The Cubs are currently in first place, and the post season begins on October 3 – just before the holiday. Alpern hopes to be serving beer, cheering the Cubs, and figuring out how to explain his kids’ lateness to their Israeli school teachers.The Panoramic Sukkah can be seen online at PanoramicSukkah.com. More of Alpern’s work is at Tziloom.com.