Just one look made it immediately clear what Keren Yairi was building with graham crackers held together by vanilla frosting — Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
“I took this very seriously,” she said.
Yairi was one of seven people at Moishe House Columbia Heights’ Dec. 7 event that was a spinoff of the Christmas custom of making gingerbread houses.
Participants used graham crackers, frosting, pretzels and candy as building materials. And no structures were the same.
Yairi said she built a model of the Kotel because she wanted to welcome Chanukah using a Jewish symbol. She said all living things are welcome to worship at her wall and may place notes in the holes of the graham crackers.
“You can be a bear and worship,” she said while pointing to the gummy bears nearby.
Moishe House resident Zoe Garber built a Conservative synagogue using eight graham crackers for the four walls, Snickers bars for the front steps and black icing to draw windows and doors. The catch? There is no roof.
“It doesn’t rain in candy land,” she said. “There are only gumdrops.”
Bethesda resident Rebecca Martin paid less attention to decorating her house and more time on determining what type of people should be inside. She ended up modeling construction workers by attaching an M&M as a hardhat to the top of each gummy bear using a dollop of frosting.
“I figured, why not have gummy construction people be in the house?” she said. “I kind of made it up as I went.”
Nearby, Moishe House residents Alyssa Silva and Joe Levin-Manning were building a sukkah using pretzels as the covering, or s’chach.
The first Chanukah may have been a delayed celebration of Sukkot, they said, explaining why they were recreating a symbol of the fall holiday for Chanukah.
“We wanted to make sure that in our own interpretation we created a place where everyone’s wandering soul could feel happy,” Levin-Manning said.
“We’re always wandering in this life, and so during Chanukah this really represented what we wanted our house to be,” she said.
As the attendees sipped sparkling cider and finished their creations, they began to transition from house-builders to dessert-eaters.
“I think art projects are more fun when you can eat them,” Garber said.