Faith, fellowship and festivities are the key foundations that bring people closer together. Denison’s Jewish community, Hillel, observed the High Holidays from Sept. 9-19, where people from all over campus walked down to The Open House in commemoration of their religious beliefs.
Yom Kippur is the most solemn religious fast of the Jewish year, the last of the ten days of penitence that begins with Rosh Hashanah. It is a more serious holiday in Judaism, resulting in more students to miss class in order to partake in events observing their religion.
On Sept. 9, the Hillel community celebrated Erev Rosh Hashanah, a two-day celebration that marks the beginning of the civil year. A service from 6-7 p.m., followed by dinner. Students, staff and faculty members entered in their best outfits and sat down together for the start of these festivities. The first day of the Jewish new year festival, Rosh Hashanah, was rung in from 9:30-11 the next day on Sept. 10. It was followed by the Tashlich service, which means “casting off” in Hebrew and involves symbolically casting off the sins of the previous year.
All services were led by Rabbi Julie Schwartz from the Hebrew Union College.
“I really appreciate how Hillel is so welcoming to not just Jewish people, but people from all religious backgrounds. It really helps students from all over campus share a common space and bond over their similarities and differences,” said Julia Tallant ‘20, an international studies major from Atlanta, Georgia.
The Kol Nidre prayer, an Aramaic prayer annulling vows made before God, sung by Jews at the opening of the Day of Atonement service on the eve of Yom Kippur, took place with a service from 7-8 p.m. on Sept. 18. Despite the stress of collegiate duties, students, staff and faculty all took the time to come downhill and honor their religious beliefs. On Sept. 19, the last day of the High Holidays, the Neilah, which is the closing service of Yom Kippur, took place at night. This was followed by a break-the-fast meal for all attendees.
“One thing I’ve learned at Denison is that no matter where you are, the High Holy days are a time where people come together. I quickly realised that despite our Jewish population being small, people still care enough to come down the hill for our services. I think it’s great and it’s also how a lot of people find out about Hillel,” said Daniel Shapiro ‘20, a global commerce major from Boston, Massachusetts and the co-president of Hillel.
Hillel meets every Friday at 6 p.m. for great food and good company at The Open House. People of all beliefs are welcome to go and partake in this Jewish tradition. The Open House is also known as The Center of Religious and Spiritual Life on campus. They hold events for all religious denominations throughout the year.