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Latest News: Press Release

Festival Hut Celebrates Jewish Holiday at George School

Tuesday, January 3, 2006  
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Issued: October 27, 2005

George School has a new, though temporary, shelter on campus this month--a sukkah built by members of George School's Jewish student organization, Havurah. Situated close to the student center, the welcoming, room-sized structure is made of lumber, wrapped in protective green netting, and strung with dried cornstalks.

This is the fifth consecutive year that students have built a sukkah in observance of the harvest festival Sukkot and urged their classmates, teachers, and teachers' families to spend time enjoying the temporary booth.

The structure is a familiar sight to senior Lauren Leiter of Weston, Connecticut, who is Jewish and grew up in a family that followed the tradition of building a sukkah for Sukkot. "Having one at the school really reinforces how there are different religions at the school and how the school is very supportive of all religions," she said. "That makes me really comfortable." Lauren said she values having the opportunity to spend time in a sukkah at George School. "Being in it is spiritual for me," she explained.

Junior Lianna Patch, on the other hand, paused out of curiosity when she saw the Havurah students building the sukkah. New to George School this year, the New Orleans, Louisiana, native didn't know what the students were doing. "I watched them make it and I asked them what it was," she said. "They put it up in the rain, which I thought was very dedicated of them."

Associated with the temporary dwellings the Israelites built in the desert after their exodus from slavery in Egypt, structures like the one built by the Havurah students are traditionally used by Jews as temporary homes--places for eating and even sleeping--during Sukkot. An informational sign inside the sukkah at George School invites all members of the school community to take part in this tradition by enjoying the space "for eating, reading, relaxing, and quiet conversation." Lianna followed this advice after the structure was completed, spending some time in it with the Havurah students.

Each year the students of Havurah plan Jewish cultural, spiritual, and educational events and activities for the entire George School community. In addition to constructing the sukkah, Havurah's regular activities include introducing the student body to the Jewish High Holy Days through assembly announcements, holding a latke (potato pancake) sale at Chanukah time, holding a Passover Seder, and leading a workshop on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In addition, Havurah often pairs Jewish boarding students with local Jewish George School families who volunteer to host them for a holiday dinner.