Hillel, a Jewish club at the University of La Verne, hosted its second annual event Tuesday to celebrate the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
The holiday commemorates the biblical period after the departure of the Israelites from Egypt when they wandered the desert and lived in temporary dwellings for 40 years, said Jake Huberman, Hillel adviser and visiting professor of television.
“One of our foundations is showing that we are all together and Sukkot brings us together. It shows we can’t survive without one another,” Hillel president Alon Dina, said.
During Sukkot, a temporary dwelling known as a Sukkah is built. The La Verne Sukkah in Sneaky Park was built out of wood and had three walls covered in green fabric. Palm tree leaves hung on the ceiling and it was large enough to fit a dozen people. It was adorned with etrogs, fruits that represent hearts due to their shapes.
Those celebrating the holiday eat, sleep and recite a daily blessing inside the Sukkah.
“The Sukkah is a way to connect to God,” Huberman said.
“There are many ways to connect, but this one is special because you completely surround yourself with holiness.,” he said.
Hillel partnered with Sustenance, Opportunity, Volunteerism and Advocacy, or SOVA, a community food and resource program that helps give individuals and families the support services they need to regain independence.
Sova is a Hebrew word that means “eat and be satisfied.”
Members of Hillel asked people to donate blankets or clothing to SOVA.
During his speech, Huberman thanked President Devorah Lieberman for her vision to create Hillel and the Sukkah.
He spoke about visiting a hospital and meeting a patient who asked him why she was homeless if things happened for a reason.
“I did not have an answer for her, but it’s our job to heal the world and help those who don’t have a permanent place,” Huberman said.
“This holiday is about community and we wanted to give something back to the community,” Frederick Horowitz, Hillel events coordinator, said.
Horowitz said that with Judaism comes culture, not just religion, and that Hillel wants to share its culture with others.
During the event, guests overflowed the donation box, listened to Jewish reggae music and ate traditional Israeli food.
Dina said it is tradition to eat 100 percent kosher food and served dishes that consisted of falafel, pita, Israeli salad, hummus and techina.
“I think it’s a good event, because it shows diversity and culture,” Arely Ortega, junior criminology major who participated in the event, said.
“Sukkot is a celebration of life and a way to appreciate what the earth has to offer no matter what religion you are,” Lee Decker, public relations manager of Hillel, said.
Huberman invited everyone at the event to join members of Hillel at 10 p.m. for a sleepover in the Sukkah.
“Come join us and we’ll get a taste of what it is like for people to have to sleep under the stars every day,” Huberman said.
Alejandra Aguilar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.