“Perspectives on Sukkot: Celebrating a Quest for Solace and Community” was the theme of the Week Three (Sept. 28) Community Reflection in Stetson Chapel. Co-sponsored by the Jewish Student Organization, the reflection educated the audience about the Jewish holiday Sukkot and the metaphors it provides in a pilgrimage towards maturity and self-awareness.
JSO President Craig Isser ’13 offered a “crash course” on Sukkot. He said it is a harvest holiday that Jews celebrate by building a sukkah, or temporary hut, which commemorates biblical times when the Hebrew people escaped from Egypt and wandered through the desert for 40 years with no permanent housing. He said Jews decorate the sukkah with corn husks and other fall harvest staples. JSO Co-Vice Presidents Rachael Vettese ’15 and Arik Mendelevitz ’15 spoke about the history and personal importance of the holiday. They announced that JSO planned to continue their annual tradition of building a sukkah during the weekend on the quad.
“Go sit in our sukkah, and let your mind wander,” said Vettese. “Enjoy the breeze, and smell the leaves as they are changing.” Emilie Harris-Makinen ‘13 said she is not Jewish, but she has found a comforting home among her Jewish friends at K. She said the sukkah is an idea to which people of any faith can relate. “Life can be hard at times, and it can be a really big challenge,” she said, “but even the slightest shelter, whether it’s a sukkah, or just the arms of another person can help you through the bad times.”
Director of the Center for Career and Professional Development Joan Hawxhurst said she came to Judaism later in life when she adopted her husband’s faith. She said the holiday reminds her that home is with the people she loves. “Our real shelter, our real security,” she said,” is not a welcome home or a plot of land we own, the permanence that we can’t guarantee. In the end, the real home is not a place.” Chaplain Liz Candido ’00 spoke about her experience transitioning from college to adulthood. She described K as a passing shelter. “You are all living in sukkot—temporary booths,” she said. Each audience member received strips of paper with which those decorating the sukkah would link in decoration of the hut.
Community Reflection offers a unique forum for discussion, worship, performance, and community expression each Friday at 10:50 AM (refreshments at 10:30) in Stetson Chapel. The entire campus community and general public are invited.
[Story by Elaine Ezekiel ’13.]