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Unity of the world

Jewish students celebrate the holiday of Sukkot

By Simone Joseph

Last week, members of Ryerson’s Hillel student group (formerly the Jewish Students Council) built and decorated a Sukkah, a hut, to commemorate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

The Sukkar is built in remembrance of the 40-year- journey when Jews left Egypt. While travelling, they had no permanent place to stay so they had to build temporary shelters. 

The “Festival of Booths” is a nine-day harvest festival, and for seven days many Jews eat, sleep and enjoy the harvest in the Sukkar.

“(Sukkot) is supposed to remind us not to take material possessions for granted,” says Ilana Segal, a Ryerson social work student. “It forces us out of our houses, out into nature to focus on things other than materialism.”

“Sukkot is called the holiday of happiness and rejoicing,” says Rabbi Michael Skobak, a university chaplin.

“The other (jewish) holidays speak of the Jews being separate from the rest of the world. One of the themes (of Sukkot) is the unity of the world.”

The students put wood planks on the roof of the hute and decorate it with posters of Jerusalem.

Inside the Sukkah, the Hillel had placed a “lulav” and an “etrog”. The lulav consists of a palm branch, myrtle leaves, and willow leaves. The etrog is a citron, which is a close relative to the lemon.

“(The etrog and the lulav) are waved north, south, east, west up and down so we thank god for everything in this world,” says Rabbi Skobak. The roof of the Sukkah is partially open so one can see the sky can be seen from inside the hut.

“In the Sukkah, you’re not protected. You’re vulnerable. It’s a way of realizing we’re not complete masters of this world,” Skobak says.

The building of the Sukkah and other Ryerson Hillel sponsored events help to fulfil religious and social needs of Ryersons’ Jewish students.

“This is a way for Jewish students to get involved outside of their program and do things outside of class with the common band of other Jewish students,” says Corby Fine, president of the Hillel.

Segal says it’s important for students to actively celebrate their religious holidays.

“We’re making our heritage and history a part of our lives nowadays. Any holiday or ritual that you observe is keeping yourself involved and in touch with your religion.”

Anyone interested in joining the RyersonHillel can leave a note at the RyeSAC office.

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