Brentford FC have become the first Premier League club to build a pitch side Sukkah and welcome local people from nearby communities to join them inside. A Sukkah is a temporary hut built by Jewish communities in the festival of Sukkot to commemorate the time God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness during biblical times in Egypt. One was built next to the hallowed turf at the Brentford Community Stadium by Brentford legend and former Premier League striker Marcus Gayle with the assistance of the Club’s Head of EDI Kevin Yusuf Coleman.
The building of the Sukkah is the latest part of the efforts to embed inclusion into the Club’s operations. On this occasion, Club representatives shared food and discussion with local faith communities and community stakeholders inside the Sukkah. Sukkot is an important Jewish celebration in the Jewish month of Tishri, which this year covers the majority of September and sits alongside other key Jewish dates such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
At the event, held in the lead up to Brentford’s game against Liverpool, Cliff Crown, Brentford FC Chair, and Director Monique Choudhuri were joined by representatives from the Met Police, Community Security Trust, Chelsea FC, Fulham FC, Hounslow Friends of Faith and long term Anti-Semitism campaigner Jonathan Metliss. The event started with an explanation of Sukkot and a prayer from two Rabbis in attendance leading into stories of Sukkot and discussions on how Brentford as a club can further engage with and include people from Jewish and other local faith communities.
As is traditional in a Sukkah, a Lulav and Etrog were shaken. The Lulav (a branch from a date palm tree) and Etrog ( an ancient citrus fruit from the lemon family) are shaken in a specific way to express seven key emotions of kindness, discipline, harmony, perseverance, submission, connection and communication. The gathering was hosted by Cliff Crown and the Chair of The FA’s Faith and Football network, Rabbi Alex Goldberg.
Rabbi Goldberg, who is also helping the Club recruit multi faith Chaplains to complement current Club Chaplain, The Reverend Stuart Cashman, said: “Mazel Tov to Brentford FC who have a wonderful ethos of welcoming diverse communities to their stadium. This universal ideal of welcoming all guests tallies perfectly with the message of Sukkot. We do Sukkah in the Stadium to show all are welcome and have a part in the national game of football. It was wonderful to see current staff and ex-player Marcus Gayle building the Sukkah and even nicer to see ex-player turned Rabbi Jonny Hughes speaking within it who officially represented the United Synagogue, the UK’s largest synagogue body at the event. Now that Premier League club Brentford and the National Stadium at Wembley have both hosted Sukkah’s, I hope this will be a more common occurrence, bringing people of different faiths and none together through the power of football.”
Cliff Crown added: “Alongside performing in the Premier League, making sure inclusion is at the heart of everything we do is one of our key priorities. Making people and communities feel welcomed at our stadium is something that personally fills me with joy and that is what our Sukkah has done today. People of faith and of none joined us to break bread and share conversation in a way that no club has done before, but we hope that in future they will join us on the journey to make football a game for everyone.”
For more information on some of the Club's other inclusion initiatives and policies or to see our new EDI strategy visit this page.