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Rosh Hashanah begins Jewish high holidays

Published: Friday, September 6, 2013

Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 01:09

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Students and community members during the services for the celebration of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, at the Spiritual Life Center on Wednesday, September 4th.

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Apples and honey are a traditional snack during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

Music rose and sacred liturgy flowed in Hebrew out of the Office of Spiritual Life’s Sanctuary on Wednesday evening as DePauw’s Jewish community celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

During Rosh Hashanah, Jewish people examine themselves and their lives through the lens of bettering themselves and their communities.

“We are a faith of deeds and making the world around us better,” said Adam Cohen, part-time coordinator for Spiritual Life. He and members of Hillel, a campus Jewish organization, hosted the evening service.

The service lasted an hour and included music, a sermon and prayers. The sermon was given in English, but the prayers and songs were recited in Hebrew, the written language of the Torah.

Following the service, dinner was served in the Ivy Room at the Hub. Members of the Jewish community made traditional Jewish dishes such as challah bread with raisins, and apples with honey. The meal was meant to make each member of DePauw’s small Jewish community feel at home. Doron Kantor, a junior member of Hillel said the group combines different ways of celebrating.

“At DePauw we all come from different congregations, areas and traditions,” Kantor said. “You have to find…what everyone knows from home and try to make that into a service, but it’s still going to be the same essence.”

The essence of Rosh Hashanah is getting together as a community and looking forward to new beginnings.

“It’s a very family-oriented holiday,” Kantor said, who returned home to celebrate with her family. “That’s something I like most about it.”

Rosh Hashanah rings in the beginning of Jewish High Holidays. The High Holy Days, also called the Days of Awe, cover almost two weeks. Rosh Hashanah lasts two full days (sundown on Sept. 4 to sundown on Sept. 6 this year) and is followed by ten days of self-reflection.

During this time, daily synagogue services are augmented with prayers from Mishnah, a book of liturgy especially for the high holidays. The Holy Days end with Yom Kippur (sundown on Sept. 13 to sundown on Sept. 14 this year).

On Yom Kippur, Jewish people pray for forgiveness for their sins. Unlike Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur takes on a somber mood.

“You’re about to repent your sins on Yom Kippur [during Rosh Hashanah],” said junior Alex Alfonso, president of Hillel, “but go ahead and enjoy the beginning of a new year.”

On Wednesday evening, Jews all around the world sang in a new year together. 

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