Bay Ridge Jewish Center celebrates Sukkot with annual Pizza in the Hut

Pizza party! On Sunday, October 12, the Bay Ridge Jewish Center (BRJC) hosted its fourth annual Pizza in the Hut event to celebrate the Jewish festival of Sukkot. Children and adults were all welcomed to the event, which was held in the yard behind the center, at 81stStreet and Fourth Avenue.

Kids got to eat various snacks as well as have play time in the playground and create art during a celebration that focused on the meaning of the holiday, which is a harvest festival during which those who observe the holiday must eat their meals outdoors. That is the reason for the construction of sukkahs, outdoor structures open at the top but draped with plant materials

“It’s actually one of the kids’ favorite events,” said Rabbi Dina Rosenberg. “We’re making Sukkahs out of graham crackers, frosting and pretzels like you would a gingerbread house. They get to play. We also have musicians. It’s just a great opportunity for people of all generations to come together and to celebrate together a community. The elderly population is here too.”

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the Bay Ridge Jewish Center to show the community what the holiday of Sukkot is all about,” added Ruth Masyr, president of BRJC. “We have big celebrations for all the holidays. We are happy to be here for whole community.”

Over the years, attendance and membership for the center has increased significantly. “It’s actually grown a lot,” said board member Joel Edelstein. “Our membership has grown 30 percent in the last two years. The word’s out. Our rabbi has brought a lot of energy to the synagogue.”

Although the event was for all ages, the children especially enjoy the day.

“They love the art projects. We do a different edible art project every year. They look forward to that,” added Rosenberg. “We’re so used to objects and this (holiday) is supposed to take you away from that and go back to the basics. The kids are able to get that and understand that when you’re in a sukkah, the roof has to have holes in it so you can see the stars. The idea is there’s something larger than them.”

Once the kids entered the sukkah to create their own, Rosenberg discussed the meaning of the day. “It’s a joyous holiday,” she said. “You’re commanded to be joyous. You’re supposed to eat and sleep in the Sukkah and then you shake what is called an Etrog and a Lulav in all the different directions to show that God is everywhere.”

Rosenberg is happy to see the event receive more attention. “Every year, we have a bigger and bigger crowd,” she said.

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