Sukkot, Judaism’s weeklong season of rejoicing, celebrates life, community and autumn’s bounty. Originally an agricultural holiday, this festival also commemorates the 40-year trek of the Israelites through the desert to the Promised Land. One builds a sukkah (plural, sukkot) — a temporary dwelling with a roof made of branches representing the hastily constructed quarters of Jews as they crossed the desert — in which to eat and sometimes sleep.
In our community, members flocked to synagogues and the Tucson Jewish Community Center for festive Sukkot gatherings. Others built sukkahs for home use and to entertain ushpizin (guests). Two such happenings are highlighted here.
Chavurah Chesed Northwest, led by Marlene Burns, held a Sukkot potluck dinner and Havdallah service at the home and sukkah of Judy and Sheldon Feldman in Dove Mountain. This chavurah, with 20 permanent and six snowbird members, meets twice monthly in members’ homes for services, holiday celebrations and learning opportunities. They also collect tzedakah for the Marana Food Bank and the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s LEAF (Local Emergency Assistance Fund) campaign.
Six years ago, at his wife’s urging, Phil Bregman decided to build a sukkah. Rabbi Robert Eisen recommended contacting the vendor booth salesman at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet, who provided Bregman with the needed supplies. Online instructions were also a useful resource for making the sukkah “kosher,” conforming to halachah, Jewish law. Their outdoor booth has evolved over the years, withimproved ventilation, lighting and decorations. In fulfilling the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah, they have expanded its use to include Dani’s book club meetings, Federation Young Women’s Cabinet meetings, USY visits as part of their progressive Sukkah dinner, mah jongg games and an annual Sukkot party. This festival has become the favorite family Jewish holiday in the Bregman household.
A fun-filled Sukkot week was kicked off with a Sushi in the Sukkah event at Chabad House. Students had the weeklongopportunity to shake the lulav, enjoy services and free meals in the sukkah, and celebrate the holiday away from home. Rabbi Yossi and Naomi Winner also constructed a mini-sukkah on the UA Mall, giving hundreds of students the chance to shake the lulav and make a blessing between classes.
Over the course of Sukkot, students entered the Hillel sukkah to eat, study and just hang out.The two largest events held in the temporary hut were the annual Shabbat in the Sukkah and B.A.S.H. (Big Awesome Sukkot Happening). While at Hillel, students who had not yet toured the renovations/expansion of the building were able to do so. The dedication of Hillel’s new digs will take place on Dec. 11.
Rabbi Yitzchak and Elle Lieblich of JAC hosted students for holiday meals during the first two days of Sukkot. They also held a class in the sukkah as part of their weekly Maimonides program. This 10-week leadership program is designed to give Jewish students the tools to make a difference in the Jewish community. The couple was pleased with the success of their Sukkot programming and the excellent student turnout.
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