POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – To celebrate the upcoming Sukkot holiday and as part of the ongoing 2011 celebration of the Vassar sesquicentennial, Vassar art students will design and fabricate two creative variations on the traditional Jewish “sukkah” shelter, and Jewish Vassar graduates will join with a current student to discuss their experiences of Jewish life at the college. An installation ceremony for the shelters will be held on Monday, October 10, at 5:00pm outside of Students’ Building (weather permitting), with the panel discussion immediately following at 5:30pm in Rockefeller Hall Room 200. Both programs are free and open to the public, and sponsored by the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life, Department of Art, and the Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College (AAVC).
The sukkah installation ceremony will include live musical accompaniment by a Vassar student ensemble. The shelters will go on to be displayed for two weeks on campus, and at least one will be used for Sukkot observance.
For its Sesquicentennial Sukkah City Project, the Religious & Spiritual Life office sought designs for the shelters from Studio Art majors, asking only that their ideas follow the basic guidelines of Jewish law for a sukkah: it must have at least three walls and have a roof made up of organic materials, such as branches, through which the stars can be viewed. The shelters are built each year to commemorate the temporary dwellings used by the ancient Israelites in their 40-year journey after fleeing Egypt.
Rena Blumenthal, Assistant Director of the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life and the Rachlin Advisor to Jewish Students, developed the project with Tyler Rowland, an adjunct assistant professor of art. Their model was the Sukkah City Project held last year in New York City, which from hundreds of proposals chose a dozen sukkah designs for display in Union Square Park during the Sukkot holiday (http://sukkahcity.com).
“Our programs will celebrate the complex history of Jewish life at Vassar through art, music and remembrance,” said Blumenthal. “The fragile, welcoming shelter of the sukkah evokes the many ways that Jewish students have made Vassar their home over the years."
Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations or information on accessibility should contact the Campus Activities Office at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the campus can be found at http://www.vassar.edu/directions.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.