Michael Wenye Li / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

October 11, 2017

Cornell Hillel Brings Sukkot to Arts Quad

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Amid the prelim madness that the middle of the semester brings, a new spot for students to take a study break has recently appeared on campus, right in the middle of the Arts Quad.

This novel structure, built by Cornell architecture students in partnership with Cornell Hillel, was constructed to unite the Cornell community in celebrating the weeklong Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

“I thought it was interesting that students could get involved in actually building the sukkah,” said Allison Herstic ’20, a member of Cornell Hillel.

“This past summer, Hillel proposed a challenge to Cornell architecture students: work together to design an innovative Sukkah that meets all the restrictions laid forth by Judaic traditions,” Hillel’s website stated.

According to Cornell Hillel’s website, the project was presented as a challenge to Cornell architecture students — “to design an innovative Sukkah that meets all the restrictions laid forth by Judaic traditions,”

Sukkot comes five days after Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Sukkot celebrates the harvest that is gathered around this time of year and praises the working of God to guide the children of Israel out of Egypt.

In accordance with the tradition of abstaining from work and relaxing in the sukkah, Jewish students of Cornell held a “Study Break in the Sukkah,” fostering unity and bonding between the Jewish students. This tradition has taken a somewhat different shape for celebration at Cornell. Facebook events have advertised study breaks, ice cream socials and Sweet Sukkah Making.

Members strive to spend as much time as possible inside the sukkah, at minimum trying to eat all meals inside the sukkah. It is situated under the open sky, with at least three walls and a roof made from natural vegetation — bamboo, pine boughs or palm branches.

“I had a really great meal there,” Herstic said. “The lights weren’t working and it was night-time but it was still nice to be sitting and eating with those people.”

The weeklong holiday is split in 3 sections. The first two days are dedicated to resting and candling lighting, as well as festive meals. The intermediate days are dedicated to spending time in the sukkah. On the last two days members rest in the sukkah but abstain from blessing. A prayer for the dead is also recited and the annual reading of the Torah is finished.

Herstic spoke to the sense of belonging the sukkah brought, saying that it was nice to have a place where she could “be in [her] own traditional environment while still at Cornell.”