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Carolyn Miller, a junior studying aviation, hangs corn as a decoration on the sukkah at Hillel. The sukkah is a temporary shelter built to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Hillel celebrates Sukkot with flowers, food and friends

Also called a harvest festival, Sukkot is a weeklong to commemorate the struggles of their ancestors during their 40-year pilgrimage in the desert. One common tradition is to decorate a sukkah, a structure full of flowers and forage that symbolizes the huts that were lived in during the pilgrimage.

A large three-sided structure covered in colorful flowers and leaves is currently taking over the porch of Hillel at Ohio University on Mill Street.

The structure, also known as a sukkah, was built Thursday by Jewish students and members of Hillel in order to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot, which began Sunday. Sukkot is meant to commemorate the Jewish people's 40-year pilgrimage through the desert to Israel. The sukkahs are meant to symbolize the huts they lived in during the pilgrimage. Sukkot is also an agricultural and a harvest festival.

“Sukkot means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The importance of the sukkah is to show everyone what our people went through in order to live,” Erica Levin, a peer networking intern with Hillel, said in an email. “Matzo is to Passover, as the sukkah is to Sukkot. It is the symbol of the holiday.”

How to build a sukkah is based on both tradition as well as interpretation of what to decorate the structure with.

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“Sukkahs can be made out of many different things, and can be as elaborate as people want. Ours is very easy to assemble and is made out of PVC pipe,” Lauren Goldberg, the assistant director of Hillel, said. “Three sides are covered in fabric because traditionally one side is open as a door. The roof is open to the elements — you can see the stars. Bamboo covers it and people decorate it with flowers and forage.”

Levin said some people actually live in sukkahs during the seven days Sukkot is going on.

“Hopefully by the end of the week, more hands will be able to be involved in the decorating,” Goldberg said.

Goldberg said people have been coming and going to hang out, eat a meal and decorate the sukkah, since Thursday.

“We decorate it to help make it beautiful and to bring the community together to help make it their own,” Levin, a junior studying management information systems, said. “I learned that it was a time of remembrance, and to remember the ancestors that fought for so long to get us where we are today.”

Goldberg said Thursday evening was a great night for students to get together and build the sukkah.

“I love this holiday because after so much praying for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we have the chance to celebrate and have a party,” Levin said. “I personally love when it is time to get all the students together to decorate and spend some time eating sweet food and having great conversations.”


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