This past week, Boston College Hillel erected a tent, called a sukkah, on the Stokes lawn.
“One of the Jewish holidays is the holiday of Sukkot, which is kind of like a harvest festival,” said Laura Newman, vice president of BC Hillel and A&S ’15. “It’s a mixture of commemorating that and also our 40 years walking through the desert and getting out into the Promised Land.”
Sukkot is celebrated inside a sukkah-the four walls are covered, and the top is made out of natural material called s’chach, typically reeds and bamboo, in order to let sunlight and moonlight inside.
“Traditionally, you have all your meals in there and you sleep out there-it’s a weeklong thing,” Newman said. “Hillel has decided not to sleep in the sukkah, but we had our Friday night dinner there, and we had a great turnout. It was a lot of fun-we actually ended up having so many people that some of us had to sit outside the sukkah to fit everyone, which was really great to see.”
BC Hillel has not set up a sukkah for a few years. “We had a sukkah-I don’t know how many years back, but it was far before I got here,” Newman said. “That fit maybe five people in it. Last year we were finally able to get the funding to buy ourselves a sukkah, so we got it sometime late last year, and this year was the first time that we were ever able to put it up. It’s a lot bigger than the old one, and really nice. We had tons of decorations inside-that’s another part of Sukkot, you’re supposed to decorate the inside with fruits and harvest things. We had a bunch of hanging bananas and pomegranates, grapes-it was very decorated and very homey.”
Hillel is nested under Campus Ministry, and its liaison is Ellen Kana, an administrative assistant who handles reimbursements and printing. The funding for the sukkah and for its events comes from SOFC, and then is transferred to Hillel’s account in Campus Ministry. About 10 people serve on the Hillel e-board, according to Newman.
In addition to Sukkot, Hillel also celebrates other large Jewish holidays. The next big holiday is Hannukah, but the group is hosting a brunch for Jewish families at 11 a.m. this Sunday, Sept. 29, during the Parents’ Weekend Family Liturgy. Hillel also hosts a Shabbat dinner, which is open to BC students of all faiths, every Friday at 6 p.m. in the second floor lounge of Gabelli Hall.