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Sukkot at Smith: Pizza in the Hut

A Report by Eleanor Cook ('13)

Thursday October 4, 2012 11:30 am

Sukkah structure on Seelye Lawn

Under threatening skies, a group of students gathered under the Sukkah on Seelye lawn in celebration of Sukkot, the third holiday of the month of Tishrei. The "Sukkot Pizza in the Hut" is part of a series of events organized by the campus Hillel group over the course of this month of high holidays.

Following Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new-year and Yom Kippur, a day of solemn repentance, Sukkot is a joyous holiday. It celebrates both the harvest as well as commemorates the forty-years the Israelites spent in the desert. The Sukkah itself is meant to emulate the kind of ephemeral and fragile structures the Israelites dwelled in during the Exodus from Egypt. The structure must have at least three walls, be made of some organic material and have a roof that provides shade but that is permeable to the elements and transparent enough to see stars through. Over the week of Sukkot, people decorate, share meals, and sometimes sleep in the Sukkah, though the chilly fall weather is often a constraint.

Community advisor Rhonda Shapiro-Rieser instructs Lily Ritter on how to wave the lulav and etrog

Another aspect to Sukkot is the waving of the lulav and etrog, a "seriously ancient" tradition as community advisor Rhonda Shapiro-Rieser explained. The lulav consists of palm, myrtle, and willow branches and the etrog is a citrus fruit resembling a lemon. The lulav and etrog are held in each hand, a blessing is said, then the objects are shaken in the four directions, up, and down. It is a reminder of creation and its holiness. It also harkens back to the harvest wave offering made in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Ultimately, the Sukkah is a place of peace and community, feelings that were evident even under the slight drizzle. Students sat in a circle, eating kosher pizza from Cutter-Ziskind and talking about Jewish characters in superhero blockbusters. Co-chair of Hillel, Lily Ritter '15, told us that the construction of the Sukkah and the group's events for the month of Tishrei are to her, very important. Emily Rothman '15, also part of Hillel, said that the observance of Sukkot is a reminder that God is in charge, something of particular significance in the midst of hectic student life at Smith.