The University is embracing the Jewish holiday known as Sukkot, a seven-day holiday marked by the construction of a Sukkah in Sneaky Park.
The production of the Sukkah – a temporary hut like the one used by the Jews when they lived as nomads for 40 years after being released from slavery – began Wednesday afternoon.
This was just in time for the celebration of the weeklong holiday that began at sundown Wednesday.
“We want to honor the Jewish heritage. We want to begin the foundation of Jewish life on campus,” University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner said. “It is both an honoring and an educating event.”
The Sukkah is a three-sided hut with a roof that cannot be secured to the structure it covers and must be permeable so that the sky can be seen to symbolize that God is everywhere.
The inside is supposed to be decorated with organic materials such as fruit, but the University’s version is decorated with fake fruit and other inorganic material for sustainability.
The University’s Sukkah will be reconstructed every year with the hope that the tradition will grow and there will eventually be a Jewish club that can construct it each year, said Daniel Loera, multicultural affairs director.
The purpose of the Sukkah is vast. Jewish tradition encourages that everything is to done in it. All meals, especially dinner, should be eaten in the Sukkah.
The project was led by Loera and Wagoner and was constructed exclusively by students and faculty.
“Part of it was that we wanted the students to take the initiative,” Loera said. “I think this is a great community builder.”
The Multicultural Club Council was the biggest benefactor of the project as they helped provide the finances and manpower to build the Sukkah.
The finished product is a 12-foot by 16-foot wooden hut with a bamboo roof and green mesh sides.
The purpose of the University’s Sukkah is much more than to embrace the Jewish culture.
It is meant to encourage others to actively participate in the culture and to think about being more active within their own cultures on campus.
“We are trying to visibly celebrate other traditions more publicly,” Loera said. “We need to learn from each other as a student community.”
“It’s nice to get a better understanding of Jewish culture in America to see if some traditions remain the same,” senior legal studies major Asia Martija said.
The Sukkah will remain in Sneaky Park through Homecoming Weekend.
Everyone is encouraged to do homework, eat lunch, have a drink or just hang out in the Sukkah.
Inside of the Sukkah, there will also be a sign-up sheet to start a Jewish club at the University.
Daniel Hargis can be reached at email@example.com.