New Year to be a transition for Jewish students

Samantha Laros

Jewish students across campus are greeting each other with “Shanah Tovah,” a Hebrew phrase which means “have a good new year.”

This is because Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, began Monday night and will end this morning.

This year, in accordance with Rosh Hashanah tradition, the Kent State Jewish community is reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to what is in store, as it prepares to relocate from its off-campus facility to the new Hillel Jewish Student Center at 613 Summit St. The center is set to open in the coming year.

In old Judaism, there was a temple in Jerusalem which everything revolved around. The Jewish people would make pilgrimages there on important holidays, said Mike Levinstein, assistant director of Hillel. The Romans destroyed the temple and from then on, the Jewish faith centered around the home.

And that’s exactly what Levinstein said the current Hillel house is, a home away from home for all Jewish students. Whether they come once a week or once a year, the Hillel facility is open to all members of Kent State’s Jewish community.

“If we intended Hillel to be a religious organization, we would have built a synagogue,” Levinstein said. “But instead it’s a home – a Jewish life center.”

After the move from Lincoln Street to Summit, Kent State’s Hillel facility will be the first to exist on state property, Levinstein said. While private schools throughout the country have Hillel buildings on campus, Kent State will be the first public school.

The new facility is more than just an office building.

“It looks like a house from the extreme makeover show,” Levinstein said.

In fact, it is more than just a Jewish life center. The state-of-the-art building will not only be a place for the Jewish community to meet, but also an outlet for the rest of the university.

The new Hillel will be able to hold meetings of the leaders of different campus ministry groups, Levinstein said. And if the geography department wants to host a lecture series, the Hillel facility will be available.

Joel Abramson, senior communication studies major, attended the Rosh Hashanah service yesterday morning for the last time in the Student Center. He said he is looking forward to not having to trek from the old Hillel building to the Student Center.

“It’s a nice parallel to have a new building to move into for the new year,” he said.

Contact religion reporter Samantha Laros at [email protected].