Stu­dents and faculty set up the tent which will be used for Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Taber­nacles.
Avalon McK­inney | Courtesy

Two Jewish campus groups are hosting Sukkot, more com­monly known as the Feast of the Taber­nacles, from Sept. 23 to Sept. 30.

The SHALOM Club will lead the event, assisted by the Hillsdale Chavarah, which is a faith group. Sukkot is a major Jewish fes­tival fol­lowing Rosh Hashanah, which marks the beginning of Jewish New Year and Yom-Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

The holiday begins on the 15th day of the month of Tishri and occurs for seven days. During this time, Jewish people remember their ancestors’ 40-year desert wan­dering, the faith they placed in God, and the agri­cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance of the holiday.

“For us, this holiday is as important as Christmas is for Chris­tians,” Vis­iting Assistant Pro­fessor of Classics Joshua Fincher said. “This is our big holiday for the year. Jewish people make an effort to be home every night to cel­e­brate it and invite lots of people over.”

Central to the holiday is the con­struction and use of the sukkah, a tem­porary three-walled booth and shelter. The Israelites did not have per­manent dwelling places and used sukkahs as tem­porary homes during the time of the harvest. Jews today are com­manded by the Torah to dwell in these tem­porary booths to remember the trials of early Jews.

The SHALOM Club pur­chased a sukkah for the fes­tival this year and set it up next to the Grewcock Student Union atop the senior sidewalk. Bamboo mats make up the roof of the sukkah and are sup­ported with bamboo poles. The spaces between the mats allow for stargazing. A large interior allows for groups to con­gregate inside.   

Rain was sig­nif­icant to the Israelites because it gave life to the crops and allowed for a fruitful harvest. Rabbis forbid praying for rain until the last two days of the holiday.

Hillsdale received a decent amount of rainfall this week, which thwarted some of the sukkah tra­di­tions. If there is rain during Sukkot, Jews are for­bidden to dwell in the sukkah.

“In Judaism, there is a high emphasis on pleasant feelings asso­ciated with reli­gious things and taking care of neces­sities so you can optimize how joyful you are,” Fincher said.  

Over the course of this week several groups have come to the sukkah. Assistant Pro­fessor of Religion Don West­blade and other pro­fessors have held classes inside of the sukkah. On Wednesday afternoon, there was a study of Old Tes­tament women. On Wednesday, the German hon­orary read German-Jewish texts. On Friday evening, the Shalom club will be hosting a Shabbat dinner to honor the Jewish Sabbath.

“Anyone is invited to come and partake in the cel­e­bration, and learn more about it,” said SHALOM Club Pres­ident Avalon McK­inney, a junior.

During Sukkot, gen­tiles are invited to come alongside Jews in the sukkah and engage in dis­cussion.

“Judaism empha­sizes dis­cussion and learning through a com­munity,” Chavarah Pres­ident junior Sara Garfinkle said.

Both SHALOM and Chavarah want stu­dents to feel welcome to join in Sukkot cel­e­bra­tions and engage in friendly dis­course to learn more about Judaism.