A day of atonement for Jewish students

April Samuelson

For David Silverman, Yom Kippur is a day of forgiveness.

“Yom Kippur is a day of repentance, and it is the judgment day for the Jewish culture and people,” Silverman, a junior sports administration major, said. “It gives me a time to ask God for forgiveness, to ask my friends and family for forgiveness.”

For junior anthropology major Beverly Coon, it’s a time to fix conflicts.

“It’s getting a clean slate, making sure I talk to my friends who I’ve had a problem with in the past year and making sure everything’s okay,” Coon said.

For junior English major David Sugerman, Yom Kippur is a time of reflection.

“It’s a time to think about things you don’t think about all year and reflect,” Sugerman said. “We all get caught up in our own lives.”

Yom Kippur, the second of the High Holidays in the Jewish religion, began at sundown last night with a Kol Nidre service on the third floor of the Student Center.

Each person in attendance was offered a white shawl, or tallit, to wear during the service. Hillel’s Executive Director Jennifer Chestnut said Yom Kippur is the only time these prayer scarves are worn at night.

Rabbi Lauren Pack, a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College in New York, led the service. Pack started the service by walking around the room in a circle with the Torah. People touched their prayer scarves and books to the Torah.

They also said prayers and sang songs in Hebrew and English.

Sophomore integrated language arts major Beth Bloom said the music in the Kol Nidre is her favorite part of Yom Kippur.

“It’s music you don’t hear throughout the year,” Bloom said. “It’s some of the most beautiful music in the world.”

For Yom Kippur, Jews are expected not to work. Today students may or may not go to their classes to go along with this practice, depending on their personal beliefs.

“Just like on Christmas, it doesn’t say in the New Testament don’t go to work or don’t go to class, but you wouldn’t want to go to work or to class on Christmas,” Hillel’s Assistant Director Mike Levinstein said. “It’s just a little inconvenient that we don’t have off on the Jewish holidays in America. The students who want to observe the holiday in its most traditional form are exempt from class and we have excuse notes for them to take to their faculty members.”

Jews are also expected to fast for all 25 hours of Yom Kippur, which lasts until sunset today.

“You fast kind of to restart the New Year,” said Amy Kahn, junior fashion merchandising major. “You’re cleansing yourself of all of your sins. It’s kind of like you’re making a New Year’s resolution.”

Junior psychology major Harrison Heller said fasting is one of the hardest parts of the Holy Day.

“When you’re fasting on Yom Kippur, you’re not supposed to eat or drink water,” Heller said. “When I fast, I notice food commercials a lot more.”

Some Jewish denominations expect followers to give up TV and other things. Freshman exploratory major Alan Mandelbaum’s father is Conservative, and he is expected to follow the extra rules.

“My dad is really strict about it,” Mandelbaum said. “He won’t let me watch TV or go on the Internet. He won’t drive the car. We have to walk to services.”

Hillel is hosting a 10 a.m. service and a 12 p.m. study session with Pack, both in Room 317 of the Student Center. Services will conclude this evening at 7 p.m. at Hillel on Lincoln Street. Afterwards, students will break fast together.

“My favorite time of Yom Kippur is break fast,” Heller said. “It’s breakfast time at dinnertime. It’s a lot of bagels, cream cheese and doma.”

Contact religion reporter April Samuelson at [email protected].