With Muslim, Christian and Jewish students in attendance, Professor Deena Grant gave a short lesson about the Jewish holiday of Sukkot and invited students to eat inside Hartford Seminary’s sukkah.
Professor Grant explained the theological underpinnings of the holiday, a seven-day occasion for rejoicing that reminds the Jewish people of the 40-year period during which they wandered in the desert living in temporary shelters. The shelters, she said, were flimsy because they could not be permanent, and the message is that man-made structures do not protect us but God does.
International Peacemaking Program student Ruth Alcabes also described her family’s tradition of creating a sukkah. The openness of the huts, she said, could be seen as a way of inviting the natural world — God’s creation — into our lives.
Before eating pizza in the sukkah, Professor Grant demonstrated a traditional blessing involving a palm frond, two willow branches, three myrtle branches and an etrog, a type of citrus fruit native to Israel.