For the small Jewish population at Cal State Northridge, the Rohr Chabad House offers students a chance to connect with their peers and experience their faith.
Despite having monthly evening barbecues on the first Monday of every month, the Chabad’s event on Monday night proved to be of special significance.
Besides dinner and dessert, this past week, students collaborated to help build the sukkah for Sukkot.
A sukkah is an outdoor hut to celebrate a weeklong holiday on unity.
Rabbi Chaim Brook of Chabad describes the event this way:
“The holiday of Sukkot is we sit in a hut for seven days, and we eat there and we spend time there. And the reason is because we commemorate the miracle that, when the Jews left Egypt and were in the desert for 40 years — and the desert could be a very dangerous place, especially when you have large families — God put a cloud to surround the Jewish people and that guarded them. So to remember the miracle we make a sukkah.
Since the sukkah had to be built, students helped the rabbi put it together for Sukkot which begins Wednesday.
“Building a sukkah for Sukkot is a Mitzvah, so the students who are taking part of it are taking part in the Mitzvah,” Brook said. “We also need a lot of hands to do it.”
The monthly free and fun dinnertime barbecues have been successful.
“We host the barbecues because we feel it’s a very easy way for students to just hang out and enjoy a social setting, kosher food, and a hot dinner,” Brook said. “It’s a way for Jews to meet other Jews.”
The Brook and his wife have been hosting the monthly barbecues for at least five years. Students feel the love and acceptance from them into their family, they say.
“Holidays are only once in a while, and Friday nights sometimes people don’t come; they have plans, but on Monday, it’s after class. It’s food, and you can just stop by,” said Shlomit Ovadia, 22, an English literature major and member of the Chabad board. “I think they’re really successful, in part because you have a lot of young people on board, so it’s your own peers.”
For many students, Chabad is more than just a place to go for food on occasional Monday nights.
“Chabad at CSUN is home for every Jewish student away from home,” said Alex Beyzer, 21, a senior financing major. “I’m very glad to have met them and experienced their warmth.”
Chabad helps many students continue their Jewish learning, or in some cases, begin to learn about their Jewish culture.
“This Chabad is meant for the students, so the whole point is to engage Jewish students and make them interested in observing and learning about their religion and culture,” Beyzer said.
During the celebration of Sukkot, Brook said, four different species, or plants, to make a blessing. The four species represent all different types of Jews. It represents that Jews from different backgrounds are always welcome.
“For me, I love it,” Brook said. “I see Jewish interest, Jewish pride, sense of community. These students are from all different places.
Students are always encouraged to attend Chabad.
There will be a Sukkot celebratory dinner with sushi, salad and soup on Wednesday, followed by more events under the sukkah throughout the week, including community service events during the weekend.
The celebration continues on Oct. 16 for Simchat Torah, which commemorates the reading of the Torah, the Jewish holy book, for the year.
Rohr Chabad House is at 17833 Prairie St. in Northridge. For more information, call (818) 885-5770 or visit www.chabadcsun.com.