There's much to dislike (or even hate) about Chabad, from deceptive intra-Jewish missionary activity to its repeated child sex abuse coverups in place like Melbourne and Brooklyn to its constant nonstop PR. But sometimes Chabad (usually a yeshiva student and few of his friends) come up with an idea that is both kitchy and brilliant at the same time. And what you are about to see is one of those very kitchy but absolutely brilliant ideas.
Chabad.org wrote in 2009:
Coming alongside a New York City push to license pedicab operators, the initiative of a Jewish teenager in Brooklyn has given pedestrians and motorists an interesting site: a mobile bamboo-topped latticework hut affixed to a rickshaw.
Levi Duchman, a 16-year-old Chabad-Lubavitch yeshivastudent from Crown Heights, was out pedaling the contraption Monday around Grand Army Plaza, publicizing the Jewish holiday of Sukkot like never before. According to Duchman, the handmade booth has been getting quite a reaction from New Yorkers, who have likely never seen a sukkah – the walled temporary huts that Jews eat in during the seven-day holiday – transported in such a way.
“People are really getting excited,” said Duchman, whose father directs Colel Chabad, a social-services organization founded in 1788 by the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, and whose brother runs the Chabad House on Roosevelt Island. “Everybody is taking out their phone and taking pictures.”For decades now, Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidim, emissaries and rabbinical students have taken mobile sukkahs – usually converted pickup trucks – through the streets of cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Rome and Paris. Duchman believes, however, that his contraption is unique.
“I woke up Friday morning with this idea,” he said Tuesday before taking his younger brother and heading out for Manhattan. “I asked all the pedicab drivers where I could get one, and then went to the store and told them what I wanted to do.”…
Levi Duchman's father is, charitably, a horrible person by pretty much every account I've ever heard, and while Colel Chabad does some very good things, there's much to criticize about the organization, as well.
But you have to admit, Levi Duchman had a good idea.
This is what the first bike sukkah looked like when Levi Duchman invented it in 2009:
This is what it looks like now that it is being professionally produced: