The Jewish holiday of Sukkot has almost run its course, with the ancient harvest festival drawing to a close on Wednesday.
But the American Friends of Lubavitch made sure to give congressional members of the tribe one last chance to worship during the holiday by erecting a short-lived sukkah just steps from the Capitol.
Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch, told HOH his group relishes the opportunity to provide congressional aides an easily accessible place to worship. But he noted that erecting a sukkah in the shadow of the Capitol Dome — something he said the group has strived to do every year (barring inclement weather or absentee lawmakers) for the past two decades — remains “an emphatic statement of religious freedom.”
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., popped by on Tuesday afternoon. So did staffers such as Jonathan Halpern, an aide in the office of Rep. Timothy H. Bishop, D-N.Y.; Aaron Keyak, an aide in the office of Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y; Mira Kogen Resnick, an aide in the office of Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif.; and Amitai Bin-Nun, a fellow in the office of Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.
Shemtov said that in years past, Reps. Nadler, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and former Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., have participated as well.
Thomas Kahn, minority staff director for the House Budget Committee, remains touched by Shemtov’s commitment to time-crunched Hill staffers.
“It’s a wonderful thing Chabad does for us. It makes us feel like we’re back home ... back in the family,” he said of the temporary respite.
Correction: 5:07 p.m.
An earlier version of this post misidentified Thomas Kahn's position. He works for the House Budget Committee. It also misidentified Mira Kogen Resnick.