Last year, we spent all of Sukkot at home in College Park, on campus. I don’t think I’ll ever have a Sukkot like that again. There were several highlight, but one stands out above the rest.
One highlight was helping the local chapter of AEPi build their Sukkah. They built it, then partied in it. Teshvu ke-ein taduru. They were even thinking of having the freshmen pledges make paper chains to decorate it.
For Hoshana Rabbah, I went and cut a ton of aravot that grow alongside the Paint Branch Creek, right outside Comcast Center. It was a lot of fun driving a car full of willow branches smack-dab through campus. There were a lot of knowing looks and nods. Everybody knows about the Jews and their leafy twigs in the fall.
The best was the result of several fortuitous circumstances. Maryland only plays 6 or so home football games each year. They are generally on Saturday afternoon. About every two years, they play a home game on a Thursday night. Last year, they played such a game and it fell out on Chol Ha-Mo’ed Sukkot. That meant that any Jewish student who could get a ticket would be going to the game. Add to this that UMD was going to play #3 Virginia Tech, with potential national championship implications, and that it was going to be nationally televised by ESPN, and you’re talking about a huge party in College Park. Maryland students wore black – to distinguish themselves from the burgundy wearing Tech fans.
So I procured (from my landlord, actually) a parking permit for the main lot, and went as the lot opened with my Sukkah to make sure that we had a choice spot. We built the Sukkah right there in the lot, brought over grills, and floted blue and white helium balloons so that people would know where to find us. We had a massive, kosher tailgate party in that Sukkah (which has since made Aliyah with me). We sold out of food and black Hillel T-shirts. Hundreds of people came through – Nate helped with the grilling, Alan treated me to a Corona he brought (we didn’t serve beer, but couldn’t tell people that they’re not allowed to bring beer into the parking lot), and we were even visited by the only frum Va Tech fans on the planet. It was probably the most fun I had during the years at UMD, and was definitely a one-of-a-kind kiyum of teshvu ke-ein taduru.
I have some more pictures on my facebook page, and a lot more stored on disk.