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Hillel Jewish club builds Sukkah for holiday

The Hillel Jewish culture club built and decorated a Sukkah in Sneaky Park on Monday. It commemorated the first day of Sukkot, a Jewish festival during which the Hebrew people were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. The most sacred location is the Wailing Wall, a remaining portion of the wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple Courtyard. The traditional Sukkah is a hut covered in palm leaves used for eating and sleeping, to remind the Jewish people what their ancestors went through after being freed from Egypt. / photo by Jessica Harsen

The Hillel Jewish culture club built and decorated a Sukkah in Sneaky Park on Wednesday. It commemorated the first day of Sukkot, a Jewish festival during which the Hebrew people were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. The most sacred location is the Wailing Wall, a remaining portion of the wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple Courtyard. The traditional Sukkah is a hut covered in palm leaves used for eating and sleeping, to remind the Jewish people what their ancestors went through after being freed from Egypt. / photo by Jessica Harsen

Katie Madden
Staff Writer

To celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the Hillel Jewish culture club held an event in Sneaky Park on Wednesday.

The club, faculty members, and non-Jewish students worked together to build a Sukkah, spread the word about Hillel and to educate students on Jewish traditions.

A Sukkah is a man-made structure meant to symbolize the dwellings Israelites lived in, while traveling through the desert after their Exodus from Egypt.

Throughout its time in Sneaky Park, the Sukkah is welcome to people of all faiths and cultures to use.

“It’s a place you can eat, study, sleep in, have conversation and reflect in,” University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner said.

“It is a holy place but you can just go in and do your regular thing. My hope is people come and hang out in it,” Wagoner said.

Jake Huberman, visiting assistant professor of communications and Hillel adviser, said he hoped this event would help to reach out to students who wanted to learn more about Jewish experiences.

Huberman also wanted to explain the importance of the Sukkah to the Jewish faith as a whole.

“Being in a Sukkah is the only way you can surround yourself in something that connects you to God,” Huberman said. “It’s a place for a holy experience and it’s also a lot of fun.”

Students from the Hillel club wanted to use the Sukkah building, among other Hillel events, to help bring them closer to their faith and heritage.

Caleb Ulrich, president of Hillel, said he is still searching for his spiritual identity.

“I’m trying to figure out if I want to live this way,” Ulrich said. “This impacts how I view others and myself. I’m figuring out if Judaism is for me.”

Carissa Miranda, public relations major and philanthropy chairwoman for Hillel, said she wants to use the Sukkah to connect to her Jewish side.

She has already embraced her Hispanic heritage but is ready to learn more and find her identity as a young Jewish woman as well.

Alon Dina, social chairman of Hillel, said that Judaism runs through his blood and that he understood the difficulty of discovering oneself.

“Everybody’s going towards the same spiritual truth,” Dina said. “We’re all just trying to find ourselves. But you’ll never find yourself truly until you die.”

Whether students or faculty are religious or not, all are encouraged to try to seek some truth, or at least education and communion in the Sukkah.

To further celebrate Sukkot, guests speakers, including Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Jonathan Reed, Rabbi Sholom Harlig and David Sacks, producer and writer of “The Simpsons,” gathered to speak on the event on Oct. 3.

The overall theme of the holiday revolved around the idea that God is always present and that anyone can find him, especially if they come to the Sukkah.

“It’s an affirmation of faith that God would provide for the world,” Wagoner said. “There may not be perfect circumstances, but your needs will always be provided for.”

Katie Madden can be reached at katlin.madden@laverne.edu.

Related posts:

  1. Sukkah construction honors Jewish holiday
  2. Hillel club explores Jewish traditions
  3. Hillel gives ULV a taste of Sukkot
  4. Hillel Festival plays classic films for students
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