The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and Hillel hosted an all-day celebration for Sukkot, which included Israeli food, a movie and the building and blessing of a sukkah in Sneaky Park on Wednesday.
University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner organized the event to help make the celebration possible.
Sukkot is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the Israelites’ walking through the desert to Israel after their freedom from slavery.
A sukkah is a temporary shelter where many people can sleep, eat and pray.
“I want people to take away from this that we can all grow together,” said former Hillel president and club founder Alon Dina.
Senior chemistry major and president of Hilel, Alexander Malinick, appreciated the support that Hilel received during the event.
“Having the community of La Verne be here is something really special and also just to see the support we’ve had,” he said.
Hillel welcomed the entire University community and encouraged diversity. The club shared Sneaky Park with Campus Activity Board’s Boho Brunch and students in general.
“Even though some people aren’t Jewish, I still want them to have the opportunity to ask questions they may have or if they’re interested in Jewish culture, then they have the opportunity now to come to the sukkah and experience Jewish life on campus,” said Melanie Browdy, junior business major and vice president of Hillel.
The sukkah took approximately four hours to build with a team of 18 people.
Multicultural Affairs Director Daniel Loera has been taking the lead to construct the sukkah since the first Sukkot celebration on campus in 2011, when the Multicultural Club Council funded the lumber to build the first sukkah.
“It’s a magnificent project and we invite cultural clubs and organizations and anyone from the community to help build it,” Loera said. “I think it really brings people together and gives people the opportunity to get to know each other in a fun, interactive sort of way.”
At 1:30 p.m, Hillel blessed the sukkah and invited people to sleep overnight in the shelter.
“It’s a harvest holiday so people reflected on the seeds they want to plant in their life and people hung out, shared stories, enjoyed nature, and made new friends,” said Jake Huberman, club advisor for Hillel. “What could be better than connecting to God and making new friends?”
Hillel encourages people from all backgrounds to join their club.
“Everyone is welcomed to join Hillel,” Browdy said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish or not, it’s about good morals and values and being able to come together to give a sense of community.”
Karla Rendon can be reached at email@example.com.