Amherst, Mass. (WWLP) – Jewish students from UMass Amherst gathered at the university’s Chabad House for pizza and hookah to celebrate the fifth night of Sukkot on Thursday.
Led by house leader, Rabbi Adelman, community members commemorated the week-long holiday that celebrates the biblical story of the protection God gave the Israelites after they fled Egypt and wandered the desert for 40 years. “We’re in the sukkah because when we left Egypt 3,500 years ago…we left Egypt [and] God had to make protection from the sun, so he had to make the clouds the special miraculous cloud the hovered over them and blocked the sun,” Rabbi Adelman told the group.
According to tradition, a sukkah must be made of at least three walls with a roof made of unprocessed natural vegetation, such as bamboo, pine boughs, and balm branches, and they must be built under the open sky. For observers, the goal is to spend as much time in the sukkah as possible and eat meals under the structure. The intermittent rain that showered Amherst Thursday night didn’t stop Jewish students from enjoying each other’s company around a smoldering hookah and listening to stories about the meaning of Sukkot.
The holiday ends Sunday, October 16th, followed by Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah which commemorates the annual renewal of the Torah cycle. It is the culmination of the High Holiday season that hosts some of the most important Jewish holidays, such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.