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Richmond Jewish community celebrates Sukkot

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 10:19 PDT, Tue September 21, 2021

Last Updated: 11:18 PDT, Tue September 21, 2021

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact gatherings and celebrations, many events are moving outdoors. The Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which is celebrated annually outdoors in a Sukkah (a greenery-topped hut open to the sky) will be marked by Chabad Richmond in different ways this year.

With the festival taking place from Sept. 20 to 29, Chabad Richmond will be helping those staying home to build their own Sukkah. Outdoors, a Sukkah-Mobile will bring the festival’s observances to Richmond Jews from Sept. 23 to 27.

For more on Sukkot events or to request a socially-distanced Sukkah-Mobile visit, call Chabad Richmond at 604-277-6427 or email admin@ChabadRichmond.com

Chabad Richmond is also offering Sukkot-at-Home kits, which will bring the resources Richmond’s Jewish need, into their homes. The kits will include a set of the Four Species and a holiday guide. More holiday guides, printable tools, and virtual experiences are available at www.ChabadRichmond.com/Sukkot. Chabad Richmond draws on its Sukkah-constructing expertise to guide local Jewish in constructing their own Sukkah at home, to meet the precise specifications prescribed by Jewish law.

The holiday of Sukkot recalls the Jewish nation’s wandering in the desert wilderness on their way to the Promised Land and the miraculous clouds that surrounded them. To commemorate this, the Torah prescribes that Jews dwell in a Sukkah for the duration of the seven-day festival. 

“Our goal is to make Judaism and Jewish practice accessible to every Richmond Jew,” said Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman, director of Chabad Richmond. “That’s why this year, we’ll be hosting COVID-safe outdoor Sukkot gatherings and helping community members build their own Sukkah at home. It’s also why we’re bringing the Sukkah-Mobile to the homes of those who want to join in the celebration but aren’t able to join our communal gatherings.”

Another unique holiday practice is the gathering of the Four Species—the etrog, a citrus fruit; along with the lulav, a palm branch; and twigs from the willow tree; and myrtle bush. Chabad Richmond has a number of sets of the Four Species in order for local community members to be able to fulfill this commandment. “The Four Species represent the unity of the Jewish people, a message felt now more than ever, with the focus on community support during the pandemic. Health precautions, including hand sanitizer and disinfectant will ensure that everyone can safely participate in the holiday observance,” added Baitelman.

The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, considered the most influential rabbi of the 20th century, launched the international Sukkot Campaign in 1953, encouraging Jews around the world to join in the holiday’s observances.

“Amid the ongoing pandemic, the message of Sukkot rings loud and clear,” said Baitelman. “We eat in the Sukkah to emphasize we all rely on God’s protection. We bring together the Four Species to emphasize the importance of unity even while we are each unique and diverse. These timeless messages guide us through these unprecedented times.”

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