Six Amazing Hillel Sukkahs



October 6, 2023

Sukkot is a harvest festival commemorating the 40 years the ancient Israelites spent wandering in the desert, searching for the land of Israel. The weeklong festival is observed by building and spending time in a sukkah, a temporary outdoor structure, where families, friends, and communities gather, eat, and sometimes even sleep. At campus Hillels this year, students created beautiful sukkahs, hosted meaningful and fun programs, and used them as hubs for service projects. Read more:

Eckerd College

Students pose around a sukkah frame
Students help to assemble the frame of Eckerd College’s sukkah.

On a predictably hot Wednesday afternoon, twelve Eckerd Hillel students gathered on campus to build a sukkah — the first in ten years! Throughout the week, the sukkah was in high demand, for Shabbat and Havdalah services, a “Pizza in the Hut” dinner, and plenty of hang-outs and study sessions. As Mindy Rosenthal, Program Director at Eckerd Hillel, described, “With little know-how but a great deal of fortitude, the sukkah arose – with students somewhat surprised, but proud and overjoyed by their accomplishment.” She added that, “Come the end of the holiday, the sukkah will be placed in storage until the next Sukkot in St. Pete. A new Eckerd College tradition has been born.”

University of Rochester

A student poses with their thumbs up behind a sukkah made of candy.
Rochester Hillel students assemble candy sukkahs, complete with thatched roofs.

UR Hillel kicked off Sukkot with a bagel brunch and candy sukkah-making event. Students and staff were joined by Sasha the therapy dog for cuddles as they enjoyed bagels and schmear. Brunch was followed by a candy sukkah bar, where students made tiny sukkahs that, according to Sarah Walters, Director of Student Life at UR Hillel, “were as adorable as they were tasty!”

Florida International University

A collage of sukkot photos from Florida International University.
At FIU Hillel, students used their sukkah as the home base for several service projects.

As part of Hillel at FIU’s Social Justice Sukkah, students packed 50 “blessing bags” to distribute to the unhoused population in communities near the University. In more food justice work, Hillel at FIU also partnered with Repair the World to pack over 100 food baskets for the Kosher Food Pantry hosted by the local Jewish Community Services.

Ithaca College

Three students pose with paper shopping bags.
Ithaca Hillel’s “Shuka in the Sukkah” gave students a chance to go on a shopping spree while celebrating.

Hillel at Ithaca’s “Shuka in the Sukkah” brought Israel to Ithaca, New York, turning their sukkah into an open-air market meets Aroma cafe. Over 100 students stopped by to shake the lulav and etrog, sip on ice Aromas, and pick up some sweet Hillel swag, all while jamming to an Israeli playlist.

Northeastern University

Students pose with plates of sushi in a sukkah.
Northeastern Hillel students enjoyed sushi in their sukkah, along with opportunities to hang out with friends and Hillel staff.

Northeastern Hillel hosted a “Hang in the Hut with Hillel (Staff),” where students could swing by the sukkah, shake the lulav, and take a study break, as well as a “Sushi in the Sukkah with the FYSH” for first-year and transfer students. In addition to providing opportunities to relax, Hillel also hosted learning opportunities, bringing their Jewish Learning Fellowship (JLF) courses and a special session on wellbeing in Judaism to the sukkah.

University of Wisconsin

Students sit in a sukkah at a table covered with food.
At “Shakshuka in the Sukkah,” UW Hillel students learned about the history of the dish and how to make it – then enjoyed the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor.

“Shakshuka in the Sukkah” was the Sukkot edition of one of UW Hillel’s programs, Be’Teavon (Hebrew for “bon appetit”) – which was created by their Israel Fellow, Gefen. Students had the opportunity to gather in Hillel’s rooftop sukkah to cook shakshuka, as well as learn about the unique origins of this delicious Israeli dish. Afterward, the students-turned-chefs had the opportunity to enjoy their meal in the sukkah, along with great company.

“The senior class also gathered at Greg and Andrea Steinberger’s house for their first Kabbalah for Seniors night,” shared Sophie Shapiro, Director of Student Life at UW Hillel. “They engaged in meaningful conversations about the holiday and Jewish life after college. Plus, they were treated to a delicious dinner, handmade by our one and only Rabbi Andrea Steinberger!”