Last Friday the Jewish Students of Carleton (JSC) put up a wooden structure in observance of Sukkot, a week-long Jewish harvest festival.
The structure, which resembles a small unfinished building, is called a sukkah. During the week of Sukkot, Jewish households build these together to memorialize the forty years the Jews were said to spend wandering in the desert after their exodus from Egypt, living in temporary structures.
Traditionally, observant Jews have lived in these sukkahs during Sukkot, even sleeping there. No Carleton students are sleeping in our Sukkah, due in part to the recent snow. After setting it up last Friday evening, JSC students said a prayer and ate dinner there. Now the sukkah is a place to gather, with students of all religions welcome to spend time there.
This year the Carleton sukkah has taken on an additional symbolic meaning. JSC members decided to use the observance of Sukkot to raise awareness of homelessness. Living in a simple sukkah helps you "learn to live without," explained Hannah Weinstein '09. It reminds students what it is like to go without a real home. The JSC held a Sukkah Sleep-Out last Friday night, and they are continuing to work with other student organizations that share an interest in helping combat homelessness.
On the last day of Sukkot all the students of JSC will take the sukkah down together. The day after the end of Sukkot is its own holiday, Simchat Torah. It includes the reading of the last part of the Torah in synagogue service.
The Jewish Students of Carleton is a student organization that provides both religious and social events for Carleton students, including Shabbat services at the Skinner Memorial Chapel. All students are welcome to attend, Jewish or non-Jewish.