Rowan Hillel Discusses History and Celebrations of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

This year's Rowan Hillel organization posed for a photo for the "Welcome Back BBQ" event that happened earlier this year. - Photo via Instagram (@rowanhillel)

Earlier this week, the Rowan Jewish community celebrated Rosh Hashanah through live-streamed services and a traditional dinner. Though COVID-19 proved to be difficult in terms of having in-person gatherings, it was not an issue for Rowan’s Jewish club and community, Rowan Hillel.

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days. It is a special two day festival, which celebrates the Jewish New Year. 

During Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate the creation of the world and the beginning of a fresh start. On this day, people often greet each other by saying “L’Shana Tova” which means “for a good year.” 

As we ring in the new year, one of the most popular customs involves eating apple slices dipped in honey. The honey signifies the hope and excitement of a sweet New Year ahead. Following the blowing of the shofar (rams horn) to announce the new year, the ten days of repentance culminating in Yom Kippur begin. 

Celebrating this holiday with the Rowan Jewish community while on campus and my own family while at home makes it even more special and memorable each year. 

Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is considered the holiest Jewish holiday. It is a day where Jews are encouraged to make amends and ask for forgiveness for any sins committed during the past year. Yom Kippur consists of a full-day fast. Children under the age of 13 who haven’t become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah along with elderly people who have underlying medical conditions are not expected to fast. Those who do fast begin at sunset and continue until darkness the following day. Typically we attend services during this holiday as well. 

A long and loud shofar blast marks the end of fasting for Yom Kippur, and we traditionally break the fast together as a family with a nice, sumptuous meal. 

Rowan Hillel, a club for the Jewish community on campus, live-streamed services on Tuesday, Sept. 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. in the Interfaith Center in Evergreen Hall to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. We also held a Rosh Hashanah dinner with traditional celebration foods that evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Next week, Rowan Hillel plans to celebrate Yom Kippur, celebrated this year on Sept.15 to Sept. 16, with the Jewish community on Rowan’s campus. Hillel will live-stream services from local synagogue CBTBI throughout the day on Thursday, Sept. 16 at 10:00 a.m. and a breakfast starting at 6:00 p.m. at the Interfaith Center at Evergreen Hall.

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