Happy holy days: A look at the Jewish holiday season


Moving the giant menorah out of where the Sukkah is being made. Features Seth Tractman, Jasper Liebert, Kyle Simmons and Noah Burman. Taken on Sept. 27 by Maki Chapman

The holiday season is in full swing for the local Jewish community, including the Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi. On Sept. 26 one of three Rosh Hashanah celebrations was held at the Chabad house in the heart of fraternity territory.

Chabad is an international organization of Orthodox Jews who seek to educate more people on the Jewish Faith. The leader of the Chabad in Chico is Rabbi Mendy Zweibel, a soft spoken and incredibly patient rabbi, who opens his house for weekly dinners on Fridays known as Shabbat dinners. 

On Sept. 29 the fraternity brothers helped Zweibel raise a Sukkah for Sukkot. The Sukkah is a free-standing building with an unattached roof, and it is used for the Sukkot, a week long holiday representing the period Jewish people wandered the desert with only God to comfort them as they moved from Egypt to Israel. 

The brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi helped Zweibel and his family put together the structure, like they have for the last 10 years. Zweibel has been doing this for 16 years, when he first arrived in Chico.

Midway through putting up the Sukkah. Showing Mendy Zweibel, Ben Goldberg, Kyle Simmons, Schnuer Zweibel and Jasper Kiebert.

According to Seth Trachtman, a brother within the of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and the president of the Chabad student club, Chabad is a place where you can learn more about Orthodox Jewish tradition. 

“We’re trying to make a safe space… and have fun!” Trachtman said.

If nothing else, everyone involved had a good time. The builders laughed and joked with each other while Zweibel’s children ran around attempting to help. Hours later, the tired, hungry builders enjoyed a barbecue of hamburgers and hot dogs once their work was done. 

The next few weeks are packed with Jewish High holidays — Yom Kippur on Oct. 4 and 5, where members of the faith go through a 25-hour fast before having a feast on the evening of the fifth. 

For many, it is a time to repent, but for Chana Zweibel, Rabbi Mendy Zweibel’s wife, it has a more positive meaning. Instead, she says that everyone has good in their heart, but occasionally we need a “wake up call” to get back to that good person.

After Yom Kippur and Sukkot is Simchat Torah on the 17th. This event is far more celebratory in tone compared to the more serious ones that precede it. 

“It’s where we have a dance party with the Torah,” Trachtman said.

Outside of the traditional events, Trachtman said that he plans on doing more events for students. When asked for a schedule, he said to check @jewishchicofam on Instagram for updates. If nothing else, the holiday season is a welcome distraction from the papers and exams students are taking for the next couple of weeks.

edited for accuracy

Maki Chapman can be reached at [email protected].