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Maxwell Street Market Celebration Marks Both Jewish New Year And The Impending Sukkot

To mark the Jewish New Year and the impending celebration of Sukkot, the market hosted an event that brought out the crowds.

Rafi Altshuler, 4, holds the lulav he has made in front of the market.
Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
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SOUTH LOOP — The Maxwell Street Market was founded by Jewish immigrants more than a century ago and remains a gathering spot for new generations of Jewish Chicagoans and scores of others.

On Sunday, to mark the Jewish New Year and the beginning of Sukkot, the market hosted an event that brought out the crowds.

People gathered around an open art space at the market to make lulav, a symbol typically made with a palm branch, myrtle and willow branch to celebrate Sukkot, which begins Sunday evening.

Joseph Altshuler and Zack Morrison, architectural designers and artist educators, led the making of lulav. They substituted four traditional ingredients with materials and ingredients local to the Midwest, such as guava and Huauzontle, or Mexican broccoli, from the market.

Jewish people around the city came to celebrate their legacy and explore their roots.

Jen Brown was excited to bring her 3-year-old son to the celebration. “This community art space connects the history of the place with the lives that we lead today, making sure that we don’t lose that,” she said.

“By commandment, in this Jewish holiday, you need to invite other communities into this celebration and the making of lulav,” Altshuler said. “I believe art and architecture has the power to bring people together, to invite communities of different backgrounds to learn about each other.”

Maxwell Street Market was first established in the 1880s by Jewish peddlers. For over a century, it welcomed in immigrants from diverse cultures while evolving into a rich economy for the vendors.

“In such a hyper-segregated city, the Maxwell Street Market is one of the only places that both physically, and in the imagination, really traverses geography, time, race, and class,” said Lydia Ross, director of Public Art for the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events said.

Ross said the purpose of the programing is to build new audiences as well as celebrate the vendors are already here.

Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, a klezmer band from the Midwest, played for the first time at Maxwell Street Market, which they are named after.

“It was great to finally be able to play where the original Jewish immigrant population set up shops,” Lori Lippitz, band director and manager, said.

Check out some photos from the event:

Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Maxwell Street Market
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
People wait in lines to get tacos at the market.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Leslie Baum, left, a Jewish painter, teaches people to make lulav.

Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
People watch as Baum makes a lulav.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Carolyn Lassnoff makes a lulav. Lassnoff, living in Chicago for 10 years, misses the celebration of Sukkot and with her family. “I think we did this when I was really little but I don’t remember it. I am really excited. I want to decorate my apartment with this.”
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Jen Brown’s son grabs a lulav.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
A girl learns to make lulav.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Baum teaches people to make lulav.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Jen Brown, Pamela Hewett and their son.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Rafi Altshuler, 4, holds the lulav he has made in front of the market.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Joseph Altshuler talks to a child about the meaning of lulav.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Alex Koffman, violinist and bandleader of Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, performs at the market.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
A girl looks at the stage.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
People at the market enjoy the authentic Jewish music.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
A view of Willis Tower from the market.