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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 19, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

IC Hillel celebrates Sukkot

Often overshadowed by the attention given to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Sukkot is a holiday many college students tend to downplay, Michael Faber, Jewish chaplain and director of Hillel, said.

“Hardly anyone actually knows about Sukkot here,” Faber said. “For the devoted students, though, it’s of great importance because it is so enriched in our own history. I would still do this even if one person — or even no one — showed up.”

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A sukkah rests in front of Muller Chapel in celebration of Sukkot, the Jewish Fall Harvest Festival. The sukkah will be open to the campus community daily for the duration of the holiday, which began at sundown today and lasts until sundown Wednesday. EMILY STONER/THE ITHACAN

About five campus community members gathered today as Ithaca College Hillel began its celebration of the annual seven-day Jewish Fall Harvest Festival in its sukkah, or harvest booth, outside Muller Chapel. The holiday runs from sundown today until sundown Wednesday.

Sukkot honors biblical history and the once-dominant agricultural lifestyle. The festival became a significant social gathering in ancient times for travelers visiting Jerusalem to celebrate the rewards they reaped from the year’s harvest, Faber said.

“Sukkot serves as a reminder of when the Hebrews were spending 40 years wandering the desert, living in whatever they could throw together,” Faber said. “That’s what the sukkah represents. We didn’t even stake it down. The wind or rain could take it away at any time.”

Faber said a donor bought the college’s sukkah, consisting of a large tarp with an all-natural bamboo roof, in 2001. He said it will stay open regardless of weather for each day of Sukkot to be used for the campus community’s observance of the holiday.

“Sukkot serves as a reminder of when the Hebrews were spending 40 years wandering the desert, living in whatever they could throw together,” Faber said. “That’s what the sukkah represents. We didn’t even stake it down. The wind or rain could take it away at any time.”

Faber made Kiddish, a blessing made over wine, in the sukkah today, serving the wine and breaking challah bread for a small group of students afterwards. Though the agricultural lifestyle the holiday honors has become less prominent, Faber said Sukkot still retains tremendous symbolism for the dedicated Jewish community.

Senior Rachael Berger said the sukkah being in plain sight on campus this year will be a great asset to those in the Jewish community who are too busy to take part in Sukkot at the Terrace Dining Hall or have forgotten about the holiday completely.

“The holiday is important — and because it’s something physical, built and seen, the Sukkah reminds people they’re Jewish,” Berger said. “All of us students could use that reminder at this time in our lives.”

Senior Simi Landau said she loves the location because of the convenience it offers and the engaging nature of Hillel’s sukkah.

“I can bring my own kosher food from home and eat here,” Landau said. “It’s absolutely fantastic. Plus it’s a very community-centered holiday, and the sukkah here not being strictly kosher-only makes it more inviting to everyone.”

Faber said the sukkah will be open to the campus community daily through the final day of Sukkot on Wednesday. A portion of Friday’s Shabbat services at 6 p.m. and Saturday’s Meditation Minyan event at 11 a.m. will also be held in the sukkah, Faber said.

Sukkot is followed by holidays Shemini Atzeret on Sept. 30 and Simhat Torah on Oct. 1. For more information about the events put on by Hillel to honor these and other Jewish holidays, see Hillel’s website at www.ithaca.edu/sacl/hillel.