The joy of Sukkos came alive for Emet Outreach students with a number of engaging programs. A beautiful sukkah adorned the great lawn at St. John’s University, a collaboration between Emet and the Jewish Student Association (JSA). Students appreciated having a sukkah on campus all week, and the highlight was an event that drew a crowd of over 60 students. While enjoying a delicious Chinese buffet, students heard words of inspiration about the chag from Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Emet Co-Founder and Director. Many students had the opportunity to partake in the mitzvah of lulav and esrog, as well.
“It was amazing to share the mitzvos of Sukkos with so many students at St. John’s University,” said Rabbi Rutenberg. “We’re grateful to the JSA for partnering with Emet for over 14 years to bring impactful programming to the St. John’s campus. In addition to building the sukkah annually, the JSA’s support has enabled us to offer a large array of learning opportunities – from our introductory Leaders Fellowship on campus to weekly Lunch & Learns and other holiday-themed events.”
Over in Forest Hills, Rabbi Michael Fuzaylov, Emet Campus Rabbi, and his wife Dina opened their home and their sukkah throughout the holiday. They hosted many college students and couples for each meal and made room for more people at dessert. In all, they welcomed about 100 guests, and each meal featured divrei Torah and lively z’miros. The Fuzaylovs also created a meaningful experience for the girls of Emet’s Forest Hills Fellowship program. Mrs. Fuzaylov regularly hosts a “brachos party” and learning for girls on Shabbos afternoon. During Sukkos, this program was elevated with a challah bake in the sukkah on Motza’ei Shabbos. Despite a rainstorm that threatened to force the final meal indoors on Sh’mini Atzeres, the Fuzaylovs managed to keep their sukkah open till the very end for an energized atmosphere that brought simchah to all attendees.
“We moved to Forest Hills almost three years ago to ensure that Emet students would always have a place for meals and learning on Shabbos and Yom Tov,” Rabbi Fuzaylov said. “My wife and I, and our children, were overjoyed by the incredible turnout we had this Yom Tov.”
Emet’s Women’s Division celebrated Sh’mini Atzeres and Simchas Torah with a spectacular program in Brooklyn. Spearheaded by Ms. Adina Fendel, Emet’s Women’s Director, a group of 22 girls were welcomed to Flatbush, where they were warmly hosted by families in the community. There were lively dinners in the Fendels’ sukkah and lunches to connect with host families. In addition to making the rounds to experience hakafos at various shuls, there were a multitude of incredible speakers each day. Discussing a range of compelling topics about Sukkos and the joys of Yom Tov, the featured speakers were Mrs. Ketziah Davidoff, teacher at Bnos Rachel; Rabbi Yisroel Grossberg, principal of Bnos Binah; Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, renowned rabbi and lecturer; Mrs. Batya Seruya, Principal of Nitzotz Bais Yaakov; and Mrs. Ivy Kalazan, well-known teacher and lecturer. The girls also had the z’chus to receive a brachah from Rav Hillel David of Khal Yeshiva Shaarei Torah of Flatbush.
“Baruch Hashem, it was really special to be able to spend Simchas Torah, the culmination of all the Yamim Nora’im, with our students who we’ve been learning and growing with the entire year,” said Ms. Fendel. “One of the highlights for the girls was watching the hakafos at Yeshiva Chaim Berlin and seeing hundreds of people dancing together. The girls also appreciated being in Brooklyn, where they felt the energy of the chag. We are so thankful to our hosts and all the dedicated people who went out of their way to ensure that we could provide an uplifting schedule.” In a fitting end to a glorious Yom Tov, the girls held a kumsitz followed by a musical Havdalah.
“We look forward to sharing more yamim tovim with our students and the Emet family,” said Rabbi Rutenberg. “These experiences over Shabbos and Yom Tov really demonstrate for our students the beauty of the Torah-observant lifestyle.”
For further information about Emet’s programs, visit EmetOutreach.org. To experience Emet’s comprehensive video library of Torah lectures, visit www.EmetTorah.com.