September 14, 2007
Holiday marks start of new yearThe two-day celebration of a new year will end tonight at nightfall. The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, is a time to reflect on past mistakes and make new "resolutions," according to www.jewfaq.org. Rosh Hashana took place at sundown Wednesday and lasted two days, ending tonight.
Rosh Hashana has several customs and traditions. Accord-ing to www.jewfaq.org, work is not allowed on Rosh Hashana.
Also, families carry out traditions like dipping apples in honey to represent a "sweet new year;" going to the synagogue and practicing Tashlikh, which the Web site describes as "casting off." Families walk to a flowing body of water and empty their pockets to represent the "casting off" of sins.
Other families might come up with their own special traditions for Jewish holidays. For example, Nina Mandel, rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Sunbury, said, "My family bakes a honey cake in order to start off the year with something sweet; it's a tradition."
Mandel, who is also an adjunct faculty member of religion, said that "coming together as a community is an important part of Rosh Hashana."
Another tradition is the blowing of the shofar, or ram's horn. Mandel said, "It's like a wake-up call to remind us of how we need to change our lives and do better, not just now, but in the world ahead."
Another upcoming Jewish holiday is Yom Kippur, which is the "Day of Atonement" according to www.holidays.net. It's the most serious day of the year and is celebrated with fasting, reflection and prayers.
Senior Vicki Shpilsky said: "Yom Kippur, to me, is the most important holiday. I try to stick to those traditions. I go to the synagogue, and I fast. You're supposed to atone, or repent, your sins for the past year. It's a day to feel regret about your sins and make amends with yourself and with God."
Yom Kippur takes place on Friday, Sept. 21 this year. The dates of Jewish holidays often change on our calendar because the Jewish year is different from the traditional calendar.
Senior Shira Zimmerman, Hillel president, said, "You learn about different religions in classes, but until you actually experience the sense of tradition and meaning behind it, you don't fully understand the religion."
Hillel is open to all students, not just Jewish students. The group meets every Sunday night at 8 p.m. in Shearer Dining Room 1. For more information, contact Zimmerman.
Jewish students can attend services at the Beth El synagogue in Sunbury. To learn more, contact Mandel or a member of Hillel.
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