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Hillel, the Multicultural Club Council, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and the Center for Multicultural Services prepared to celebrate Sukkot with the annual building of the sukkah in Sneaky Park on Oct. 13.
Sukkah, which means “booth” in Hebrew, is a three-sided temporary hut that people eat, rest and pray in during Sukkot.
Sukkot is a week-long Jewish holiday that commemorates the temporary shelters Israelites used for 40 years when crossing the desert after leaving Egypt. This year, the holiday began on Sunday and ends on Monday.
“Even in hardships, there can be moments of blessing, and so the holiday helps us celebrate that we’re in the fall season where there is this bounty of harvest,” University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner said. “It symbolizes this blessing that is available for us even in difficult times.”
Director of Multicultural Affairs Daniel Loera and students in Hillel and the Multicultural Club began building the wooden frame of the sukkah at 8 a.m.
The clubs encouraged students and faculty members to help build and decorate the hut throughout the morning.
“You need to make sure every religion is represented here on campus, whether it’s Christianity, Judaism or Islam,” said Jarret Mason, senior kinesiology major and president of the Multicultural Club. “That’s why we are building the sukkah today.”
After the foundation was built, the top was decorated with large palm leaves and branches, and a green tarp was placed on three sides of the hut. Harvest fruits and vegetables decorated the tables inside.
“This is a way for Judaism to connect with our roots and our foundation of fruits and vegetables and thanking God,” said Melanie Browdy, senior business administration major and president of Hillel. “I hope people can be open to learning about other religions and culture and also experience something a little different than what they’re used to,” Browdy said.
At 1 p.m., Cantor Paul Buch from Temple Beth Israel in Pomona blessed the decorated sukkah before the students and faculty celebrated the completion of the hut with kosher food inside the shelter they helped build.
Browdy said she hopes the event will teach students about Sukkot and what Hillel, the Jewish cultural club, is about.
“Hillel is really about community, and you don’t have to be Jewish to be in Hillel,” Browdy said. “It’s about learning about being a part of something that is bigger than yourself.”
The sukkah will remain in Sneaky Park for the duration of Sukkot and is open for anyone in the La Verne community to use.
“The sukkah is such a place of community and gathering, so I really hope the community will use it as that, to come and study, meet people here, to hang out and enjoy the campus community,” Wagoner said.
Emily Lau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.