From Bangkok to Brooklyn, and every inhabited place in between, the name Chabad is synonymous with warm care and concern for every Jew. On a daily basis, Chabad Shluchim spanning the globe are involved in attending the basic needs of their local Jewish community and tourists alike.
The students of Lubavitch Yeshivas, still occupied with their studies, are also an integral part of this work. In addition to their communal activities on Friday afternoons, lunch breaks, etc. they dedicate their allotted summer and holiday vacations to promote Jewish awareness. Many students travel to remote locations, far away cities and countries where there isn’t any full time rabbinical presence, to do the work of a Shliach. In New York, no different than anywhere else, the Yeshiva students dedicate their holiday vacation to bring the message of Judaism to Jews who otherwise wouldn’t be aware of it.
From the very outset of his leadership, The Rebbe made it his responsibility to tend to the spiritual needs of world Jewry. No Jew would be left behind. No Jewish soul would remain untouched. The Rebbe launched the Mivtzoim campaign, educating and urging Jews to perform all mitzvahs and become more actively observant and proud of their heritage.
Over the years, more and more activities were added to bring Judaism to Jews everywhere. Encouraging the less observant Jews to increase their practice of mitzvahs like kindling the Shabbos candles, studying Torah, donning Tefillin every week day, to name a few. The Jewish holidays play a vital role in the Rebbe’s campaign to reach those Jews who aren’t familiar with the Yomim Tovim.
Each holiday has its unique campaign.
On Sukkos, the responsibility lies on each person to bring the mitzvah of Lulav to the street, inviting passers-by to make a blessing on the Four Kinds (symbolizing the unity of all classes of Jews). The Rebbe instituted this campaign in 1953. On the first days YomTov, Chabad Chassidim walk far and near to afford other Jews an opportunity to take part of the mitzvah.
It’s that time of year again when those odd looking, ramshackle huts appear on every other porch and yard in Jewish neighborhoods around the world. It’s Sukkos—a time of joy and spiritual celebrations commemorating the Divine protection we merited as our people sojourned through the wilderness over 3,300 years ago.
A walk through Brooklyn’s Crown Heights section during the Sukkos festival will amuse the visitor in a vivid manor. Lining the community’s streets are many pick-up trucks with Sukkah’s fastened to their beds’. These trucks are popularly known as “Sukkah Mobiles”. They even have leaves and branches on top to make traditional kosher Sukkahs.
This sleek concept was invented by the Yeshiva students as a heed to the Rebbe’s call to bring the beautiful message of the holiday and the joy of YomTov to Jewish people all over.
The Sukkah on wheels is a rolling success. Sukkah Mobiles visit prisons, hospitals, popular shopping areas, private homes, public schools and office districts, enabling hundreds of Jews to fulfill the mitzvah of eating something in the Sukkah and making the blessing on the “Four Species”. They are manned by the young enthusiastic Yeshiva students who work tirelessly at it from early morning till late at night.
The Sukkah Mobiles are outfitted with snacks, tables and chairs and Lulav and Esrog sets. Decorated with large beautiful signs and playing lively Jewish melodies, these trucks draw quite a bit of attention on city streets. Among their visits, the students don’t forget to bring smiles to the faces of the elderly at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. A Lunch and Learn session was even held in one the Sukkah mobile outside some of the offices in New York City.
“Many Jewish people are unaware that it is Sukkos and unfamiliar with it. We don’t wait for Jews to come to us to celebrate Sukkos, we go to them,” says Shmulik fryman, one of the rabbinical students responsible for organizing this huge operation. Parked in front of the Atlantic Center mall in Brooklyn on a rainy Chol HaMoed morning, he invites people in and hands them the traditional Lulav and Esrog to wave while chanting the brachas. Then he shares a kosher snack with them underneath the graceful palm leaves on the Sukkah.
Today, the Sukkah mobiles are constructed in all shapes and forms. In one instance, some students surprised their community with its first ever horse drawn Sukkah. The Sukkah, situated on a horse-drawn wagon, made its way through the urban city, stopping at different locations in order to provide Jews with the opportunity in partaking in the holiday.
“The Sukkah Mobiles mean a lot to businessmen and tourists alike. For some it may be a chance to fulfill the mitzvah of eating and drinking in the Sukkah while away from home. Whereas for others, it’s an opportunity to shake the Lulav and Esrog, and yet for many it may be their first time ever celebrating Sukkos”. Explains Rabbi Fryman.
One rabbi, a Shliach in a suburb of New York says “For many years now we have been attracting wide-eyed stares and generating excitement amongst our youth when our Sukkah on wheels drives by. Our Sukkah, perched atop a truck, serves the purpose of publicizing this fun and family friendly mitzvah. It also provides students at local colleges and schools the chance to shake the lulav and Etrog, make a blessing in the Sukkah, and proudly show their friends their age old traditions.”
This year a record breaking number of Sukkah mobiles will disperse throughout the tri-state area to assist any Jew who is need. To find out where the Sukkah mobiles will be in your neighborhood or for sponsorship opportunities contact the sukkah mobile Sukkah Office at (718) 804-0077 ext 112. Or via email: Sukkos@mitzvahtanks.com