The Jewish month of Tishrei spans the entire gamut of spiritual experiences. In a dramatic shift from the intensity and seriousness of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Sukkot is a downright jolly holiday. Festive meals, lots of dancing during services, and a free hand with the L’chaim, are characteristic of the merriment unique to Sukkot, also known as the “Festival of Booths.”
A favorite of Jewish holidays for college students, Lubavitch.com takes a quick look at events on a handful of campuses.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
Respecting Ohio State University’s policies, Chabad’s Sukkot festivities at OSU will be alcohol-free. Carson Dye, 21, a history major at OSU and vice president of Chabad, isn’t worried. “Zalman [Rabbi Zalman Deitsch] can turn anything around,” he says. So even without the drinks, Simchat Torah with Chabad will still turn out to be far from a dry experience.
This year, the annual Student Involvement Fair coincides with Sukkot. 4,000 freshmen, 1,000 of them Jewish, browse the booths of various campus organizations. “This is a great opportunity for a first encounter with Chabad,” says Rabbi Deitsch, whose kosher hot-dog stand is a terrific draw for Jewish students who stop by Chabad’s booth and will now have a chance to visit in its mobile Sukkah on site.
At a “Sukkah Building BBQ” at Chabad of SUNY, Albany, one hundred students rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Together with Rabbi Mendel Rubin, they built a Sukkah roomy enough to seat them all.
Hundreds of students will join Chabad for festive meals throughout the holiday and will celebrate at a smashing Sukkah party on Wednesday with music, dancing, games and refreshments.
Nostalgic for the lively Simchat Torah experience of years past, some forty alumni will return to Chabad—a favorite campus haunt, to celebrate the holiday with new students.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
The handiwork of dozens of students, a huge Sukkah on campus at the University of Florida, built in a record-breaking hour and a half, will be open 24/7 for the university’s 6,000 Jewish students. Festivities include holiday meals, services, and a Simchat Beit Hashoevah evening bash.
Hundreds of students, many of whom “would otherwise never set foot in a shul,” according to Rabbi Berel Goldman, are expected to join Chabad for Simchat Torah celebrations in a ballroom Chabad rented at the local Holiday Inn.
The mitzvah of Sukkot, of course, is to take meals in the Sukkah. “Pizza in the Hut” is how Chabad at Tulane University in New Orleans will be partying with students to fulfill this mitzvah. The Sukkah will be manned by students throughout the holiday as they share with others the mitzvah of Lulav and Etrog.
Similar festivities will mark the Sukkot holiday at Chabad centers universally, where thousands will celebrate in a spirit of infectious joy.