Standard Sukkah, Unusual Setting

Standard Sukkah, Unusual Setting

Like any sukkah, the 10-by-10-foot tarpaulin hut put up by the Academy for Jewish Religion in Riverdale last week attracted people committed to religious tradition.

In the case of some who ate and studied in the AJR sukkah, it’s the Catholic tradition.

The nondenominational rabbinical school is located on the campus of the College of Mount Saint Vincent, a Catholic institution that is also the home of nuns affiliated with the Sisters of Charity.

The school readily gave permission for AJR — based at the college 11 years — to build a sukkah on its premises five years ago, and members of the Mount Saint Vincent community frequently stop by to ask about the sukkah’s religious significance, says Dr. Ora Horn Prouser, the school’s executive vice president and dean.

The college has offered “total openness and welcome,” she says.

The sukkah is located in the administration building, on a patio off of the cafeteria.

“We want to provide for our students” to have a sukkah in which to eat during the holiday, Prouser says. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for connection with the college. They react on a faith level.”

As far as she knows, the AJR sukkah is the only one on a Catholic campus in the country. “I have not heard of any” others.

During lunchtime, the sukkah is crowded, Prouser says. It escaped last week’s rainstorm unscathed, she says. “We were lucky — we did OK, thank God.”

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