The first ever succah was erected at a Premier League Football club, thanks to a collaboration between a rabbi and the team’s Muslim diversity officer.
Rabbi Alex Goldberg, chair of the Football Association’s Faith and Football group and rabbi Johnny Hughes, a former professional footballer, inaugurated the succah at Brentford Football Club last week.
The club launched the initiative after its Diversity and Equality officer, Kevin Coleman, had worked with Goldberg through the Football Association. In October 2019, the duo helped to put a succah up at Wembley Stadium.
He told Jewish News, the club was “trying to engage and work with all the local communities, whether it’s faith, or nationality based. Through Rabbi Alex Goldberg, who I’ve worked with before, Rabbi Jonny Hughes, and our chair Cliff Crown – We decided to have one in the stadium this year. Myself and Marcus Gayle, a Brentford legend… we built it together”, he said.
Speaking about the importance of the gathering , he said “there are often quite a lot of commonalities” between communities, “and actually, when you have interfaith and inter-community events, you can talk to different people about the ways they want to engage.”
Rabbi Goldberg thanked the club for hosting the succah at its stadium, in addition to its chair Cliff Crown, who is a member of Rabbi Hughes’ Radlett Synagogue.
Saying the Succah-in-the-Stadium event was “the first time a Premier League club has built a succah”, he praised Brentford for its “wonderful ethos of welcoming diverse communities in a spirit of openness.:
He added “I hope this is repeated again. As chair of the FA Faith and Football group we have developed and are developing events across different faiths and their festivals.
Hughes, who was once on the books of Reading FC, said: “I was delighted to be invited to help host the event and welcome people from a range of faith backgrounds to the beautiful traditions of Succot.
“One of the many messages of the festival is the idea of welcoming Ushpizin, guests, to our succah and it is a credit to Brentford that a Premier League football club which prides itself on its diverse supporter base created this event to welcome so many people into their succah.”
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