Sukkah rolls to the Jewish faithful
A rabbi and his son drive a simple hut around and park it in conspicuous places, hoping Jews would see it and come over to learn about Sukkot.
By MINDY RUBENSTEIN
Published October 13, 2006
LAND O'LAKES - Ilisa Nickle is Jewish but had never celebrated the holiday of Sukkot.
That changed Thursday, in the most happenstance way.
Nickle was on break from her job at Big Lots. She was sitting in her car in the parking lot, "talking to God," she said. Her mother died last month, and she was asking for help to buy the headstone.
That's when a man in a white button-down shirt and black pants approached her. Yosef Rivkin was his name. He was the son of a rabbi.
Soon, he and Nickle were standing in the bed of a white pickup parked away from other cars in the lot off State Road 54 and U.S. 41. Atop the bed was a makeshift wooden hut with palm branches, fruit, leaves, and other natural materials - a sukkah.
Sukkahs are often used during Sukkot, when believers commemorate the ancient Jews' faith in God as they journeyed through the wilderness using temporary shelters.
Observant Jews usually build sukkahs in their back yards. They study, pray, eat, or even sleep in them. They often perform certain rituals during the holiday to promote unity.
The Sukkot holiday lasts eight days, and ends this year on Saturday at sundown.
Yosef's father, Rabbi Lazer Rivkin, is the director of the Chabad House Jewish Student Center at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He wanted Jews around growing areas of Pasco and Hillsborough to experience Sukkot. They have fewer options to connect with each other than Jews in urban areas like Tampa or big cities like New York, he said.
So he rode around with a sukkah on a truck and called it a "sukkahmobile." He and family members parked it in conspicuous places: outside Big Lots, on the USF campus. They went to retirement centers to reach the elderly. They hoped Jews would see them and want to learn about Sukkot.
Some, like Nickle, did.
[Last modified October 12, 2006, 22:27:40]
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