On Oct. 17, the inside of the sukkah built at East Side Dining was transformed into a candy land where students assembled mini edible sukkahs out of sugary treats that would surely satisfy any sweet tooth.
The event, which was organized by the Stony Brook Hillel and the Jewish Student Association (JSA), was connected with celebrating the seven day Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Sarah Levovitz, a senior biomedical engineering student and President of JSA, explained that Sukkot celebrates how “G-d protected the Jewish people in the desert for 40 years [during the Exodus] and we build the hut [sukkah] to symbolize the huts they built in the desert.” Sarah described how there are four specific holy plants that are shaken during the holiday, which “show that we’re all coming together.” During Sukkot, it is a custom for practicing Jewish families to build the sukkah and eat their meals in it.
The interior of the large sukkah outside of East Side Dining contained multiple tables and various posters explaining Sukkot and how to perform the lulav and etrog blessing (the shaking of the four plants). The roof of the sukkah was made out of organic material, a traditional method meant to bring shade but have enough space to be able to see the stars at night. At the tables, students replicated the sukkah on their plates with walls made of graham crackers, windows made out of gumdrops and roofs covered in pretzel sticks. Students also ate lunch together and socialized inside. The sukkah provided a welcoming atmosphere where everyone was talkative, so much so that the students inside the sukkah could be heard laughing from outside the hut.
While the edible sukkahs were not nearly as large as the traditional sukkah that the event was held in, Alexa Rudley, a sophomore political science and biology double major, described building edible sukkahs as “a great event to draw people in and learn about Sukkot.” Rudley added that the process of making the sweet structures “gives you a chance to be creative and have fun with the food.”
Michael Rahbar, a senior linguistics major and the Interfaith Chair at JSA, discussed what Sukkot means to him and why it is so important. “It’s a holiday, so it’s going to bring people together and it’s an opportunity for everyone to have a nice time together.”
Rahbar added that he helped build the official sukkah. He spoke of how JSA gives him a chance to be apart of a greater community and “as a community you have people from all different backgrounds and levels of observance.” He described the “concept of community [as having] events like these that are open to everyone who has any interest whatsoever.”
Community is essentially what Sukkot is all about. The holiday requires teamwork in small aspects, like helping each other build edible sukkahs, or large ones like constructing a fully sized sukkah.