Students and staff gather outside Miami Country Day School’s first-ever sukkah. Left to right: Tenth-grader Nicole Farchi-Segal; humanities teacher and club sponsor Allison Schwartzbaum; tenth-graders Simon Hoffman and Justin Golden; headmaster Dr. John Davies; tenth-grader Jordan Karp and world religion teacher Daniel Penengo.

Usually, the building and use of a sukkah in a school during the Sukkot holiday is a project undertaken by a Jewish day school, yeshiva or Jewish organization on a college campus.  This year, a dedicated group of high school students changed the status quo in their nonsectarian private school in Miami Shores, Florida.

High school sophomores at the Miami Country Day School created the Jewish Student Association to explore and participate in Jewish cultural activities and events. Ignacio Aiza-Bigio, Nicole Farchi-Segal, Justin Golden, Simon Hoffman and Jordan Karp were instrumental in launching the club.


This Sukkot, the JSA built a sukkah on the MCDS campus for all to enjoy. Club members gathered in the sukkah with students in the lower school and head of school Dr. John Davies, religion teacher Daniel Penego, and humanities teacher and sponsor Alison Schwartzbaum.  Youngsters enjoyed snacks and spoke about the meaning of the holiday. Dr. Davies expressed his hope for the establishment of a yearly sukkah building tradition.

All week long, students were invited to “dwell” in the sukkah during their free periods, at lunch and during breaks. Some teachers even held classes in the sukkah.

JSA members of are excited about spending their first year as a recognized club. Many programs are planned including service projects, support for Israel, holiday celebrations, Shabbatons, a Chanukah party and toy drive and a monthly mitzvah day.