A “Sukkah-Mobile” is taking to Richmond’s streets this week to help residents celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or “Festival of Huts,” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Chabad Richmond, the holiday, which follows shortly after Yom Kippur, celebrates the gathering of the harvest and “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 shield them from the sun.
“To commemorate this, the Torah prescribes that Jews dwell in a Sukkah for the duration of the seven-day festival,” Chabad said.
The Sukkah-Mobile, a pick-up truck bearing a wooden, greenery-topped hut known as a Sukkah, will visit Jewish residents from Sept. 23 to Sept. 27.
It’s one of the options Chabad is offering to help people who feel more comfortable staying home celebrate the holiday.
“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”
To help community members build a Sukkah at home, Chabad is also offering Sukkot-at-Home kits that include a guide and items needed to mark the holiday, including the Four Species – the etrog, a citrus fruit; the lulav, a palm branch; and twigs from a willow tree and myrtle bush.
“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,” said Baitelman.
While Chabad has offered this program for many years, said Baitelman, it was increased “significantly” last year due to COVID-19.
“As many people could not make a visit to the Sukkah, we brought the Sukkah to them and distributed many at-home kits,” he said. “We like to say, ‘if Moses can’t make it to the mountain, we bring the mountain to Moses.’”
He added that health precautions will also be following so people can participate in the holiday observance safely.
To request a socially-distanced Sukkah-Mobile visit, call Chabad Richmond at 604-277-6427 or email admin@ChabadRichmond.com.