OCU Jewish Stars sponsored a sukkah on the quad, in celebration of Judaism’s holiday of Sukkot.
Sukkot celebrates the fall harvest and commemorates the 40-year period in which the Israelites traveled through the desert. The holiday begins five days after Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and lasts eight days. Sukkot is Oct. 16-23 this year.
One of the main Sukkot traditions involves the sukkah, a temporary hut made of natural materials. Sukkot is the plural form of sukkah, so the holiday literally means “hut.” The sukkah’s significance comes from the 40-year desert journey, because Israelites stayed in sukkot along the way, as well as from harvest season, because while harvesting crops, workers lived in sukkot in the fields.
OCU Jewish Stars built their own sukkah on the quad, which they borrowed from Emmanuek Synagogue. Religious rules require the structure to be temporary, so the organization will return the hut to the synagogue on Oct. 23.
“I like the sukkah because it gives me the chance to help celebrate traditions other than Christian holidays,” said Daniel Etti-Williams, acting sophomore.
Student Engagement, Inclusion, and Multicultural Programs helped the group decorate the sukkah. They did not use the traditional natural materials, but they bought fall-themed decorations to celebrate harvest.
“It’s considered a mitzvah, or good deed, to do a lot of things in the sukkah,” said Celia Tedde, music theater sophomore. “We encourage all students to spend some time there sitting, eating, or talking. Traditionally, people also sleep in them, but ours is too small for that, and we’d probably get kicked out.”
OCU Jewish Stars will host an event called Pizza in the Hut from 5-7 p.m. Oct. 20 by the sukkah on the quad. They will serve free pizza to any student who attends, and three rabbis will visit campus to answer questions about the holiday and teach students about another tradition, the lulav and the etrog.
The etrog, a yellow citrus fruit resembling a lemon, is considered “the godly fruit” and represents the heart, which is the center of compassion, understanding, and wisdom, Tedde said.
The lulav, a large, closed palm frond attached to myrtle and willow leaves, stands for uprightness, lips, and eyes. Traditionally, Jews combine the lulav and the etrog to represent the four ways in which they show devotion to God.
During Pizza and the Hut, students will have the opportunity to combine the two symbolic items and shake them in all six directions: north, south, east, west, up, and down. The ritual is meant to draw blessings from every corner of the earth and send them out to all creation.
“The whole process of our Sukkot celebration has been a fun, community effort,” Tedde said. “I hope lots of students utilize the sukkah, for whatever purpose they choose.”