Article & Pictures By: Mike Isaacs / Skokie Review
Not every observant Jew has the time or the space to build a Sukkah for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
That’s OK, though, because if building a shelter for outdoor eating is too difficult to achieve, Lubavitch Chabad of Skokie’s Sukkahmobile can come to them.
That’s just what has happened during Sukkot, which began Oct. 8 and finished up the night of Oct. 15. This biblical Jewish holiday is celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei — it varies from late September to late October — and honors the harvest by commemorating the temporary huts used by the Israelites in the wilderness.
“During this week, we go out and have our meals in a booth — in a hut,” Rabbi Yocahanan Posner said Monday when he brought the Sukkahmobile to a corner of the Westfield Old Orchard shopping center parking lot. “It’s a Sukkah, which is on wheels. We drive around with it. People who don’t have a Sukkah at home can use our Sukkah.”
The day was overcast and rain began to fall from a grey sky. But that didn’t stop a handful of teenagers — mostly from Niles North High School across the street — and other families from sharing blessings and then pizza in the festively-decorated Sukkahmobile. The homemade porous roof did not keep out the rain, but that was OK, too.
“It’s raining outside, but that hasn’t stopped us,” Posner said. “We have a good time rain or shine. Maybe it’s even better in the rain because the point of the Sukkah is to remember that as people we’re exposed to all kinds of frailties. It’s only God’s help that keeps us going strong.”
Rochel Telsner and her husband, Rabbi Chaim Telsner, run youth programming at Lubavitch Chabad of Skokie.
“For the holiday of Sukkot, we decided to come visit some of our teens here at Niles North and give them the opportunity to bring their friends over,” Rochel said.
“The holiday of Sukkot is a holiday when we commemorate how we traveled in the desert and God took care of us there in clouds of glory,” said Rabbi Chaim Telsner. “Every year we recognize how God is taking care of us no matter what’s around us. God always has a protective shield and cover over us.”
Telsner said the Sukkahmobile fulfills a primary goal of Lubavitch Chabad of Skokie.
“We try to make Judaism accessible to every person possible,” he said.
Niles North junior Maia Sepiashvili is a board member of Lubavitch Chabad of Skokie’s CTeen, a network that aims to bring teenagers together to give back to their communities and the environment.
“The Sukkahmobile just shows that Judaism does travel,” she said. “It’s a way to spread our culture. It’s just a way to bring the Jewish community together because not everyone is able to build a Sukkah at their house so something like this — especially with kids — allows them to get that knowledge of what the Sukkah is and what importance it has to the holiday.”
The Sukkahmobile, though, hasn’t only visited kids. It has traveled throughout the community and been well received everywhere it has gone.
“People like to feel good and like feeling holy,” Posner said.
On Sunday, the Sukkahmobile visited a family — Russians who came here 20 years ago. It was the first time for them being in a Sukkah. The Sukkahmobile visited an 84-year-old man who never married or had kids. He hobbled outside and joined in the party. Posner and the man ate and drank and sang and talked.
On Tuesday, the rain started to splash down harder and the small gathering got more wet as they ate their pizza and visited with each other.
“It’s raining outside and here we are in the Sukkah,” Posner said, unfazed by the dour weather. “We know how fragile our lives are and we’re thankful for every moment we have of life, health, happiness, and thank God for that.”