Hillel welcomes parents on traditional Jewish holiday

Prepped with sheets, bamboo poles, leaves, metal rods and an assortment of other items, a group of Jewish students gathered together to build a sukkah Tuesday night.

A sukkah is a temporary structure built for the weeklong festival of Sukkot, also known as the festival of booths.

Sukkot is a biblical festival holiday that commemorates the shelters the Israelites lived in during their 40 years of travel after they left Egypt, said Lauren Goldberg, engagement professional at Hillel.

Although Sukkot isn’t directly connected to the high holidays, it closely follows the calendar and fits thematically with the holidays, said Mary Brett Koplen, visiting Jewish educator and a 2011 Ohio University graduate.

“Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur make us self-reflect and look within ourselves to get into things that matter, and Sukkot is kind of the same except with physical necessities,” she said. “Sitting in a fragile, temporal sukkah makes you appreciate what you have.”

The sukkah is required to have a half-ceiling where one is able to see the stars, but there has to be more shade than sun, she added.

Since Parent’s Weekend falls during this year’s Sukkot, parents are invited to the sukkah, Goldberg said.

“It just so happens that we have a Parent’s Weekend brunch, and since it’s a mitzvah, we would love for families to come join us,” she said.

There are four commandments that are done for Sukkot: building a sukkah, eating in a sukkah, sleeping in a sukkah and waving the lulav— a collection of willow, palm and myrtle branches— and etrog— citrus fruit.

The festival is attached to the harvest season, and many people celebrate and thank God for a good harvest, said Nathan Moncrieff, a freshman studying meteorology.

“It's one of my personal favorite holidays because I love the outdoors,” he said. “(The sukkah) is very symbolic of the holiday in that you can take all these things from nature and build something so beautiful.”

Sukkot is often referred to as a festival of joy because it starts after the New Year when there are new possibilities, Koplen said.

“You start with a clean slate, and then this holiday comes along, and it makes you feel joy,” she said. “There is a crispness and a freshness to everything, and it feels natural.”



If You Go

What: Parent’s Weekend Brunch

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Hillel at Ohio University, 21 Mill St.

Admission: Free

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