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Jewish students celebrate High Holy Days

Elon Hillel marks a milestone in the growth of a vibrant Jewish life on campus with services and events tied to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

A 200-year-old Torah that survived the Holocaust was used in Sept. 29 services to mark Rosh Hashanah.

Jewish students at Elon University celebrated Rosh Hashanah this week in a series of programs that mark the first time in school history that services for the High Holy Days have been scheduled on campus.

Traditionally, students have traveled to either Durham or Greensboro for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. Elon Hillel director Nancy Luberoff wanted that to change, and this fall she brought to campus Emily Jane Rosenzweig, a rabbi from New York who led the Rosh Hashanah services in McKinnon Hall on Thursday morning.

“For me, having the services here is an acknowledgement that we are a Jewish community in our own right,” Luberoff said. “We have the people, the energy, the sense of community to do this ourselves and we don’t need to be guests at other services, where our students aren’t able to take part (as readers or leading prayers).”

A Torah that dates back two centuries and survived the Holocaust was used in the morning celebration. It was one of the 1,564 Czech Memorial Torah scrolls looted by the Nazis from the Jewish communities of Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia. The Westminster Synagogue in London acquired the Torahs in 1964. Since then, many have been distributed throughout the world, and the Judea Reform Congregation in Durham, N.C, lent Elon Hillel the one used Thursday.

Alexandra Solender '12 blew the shofar welcoming the Jewish New Year.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, which started Wednesday evening and is observed for one or two days, depending on family tradition. One tradition on Rosh Hashanah is to blow the shofar, a ram's horn, to welcome in the New Year, and Elon senior Alexandra Solender '12 has the honor of doing so for the inaugural campus celebration. Also on Thursday, the Tashlich ritual on Lake Mary Nell allowed students to cast their “sins” into the water to be eaten by the fish.

The High Holy Days continue the first week of October with Rosenzweig leading Yom Kippur services on Oct. 7 and 8. Elon Hillel will be collecting food and money during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to donate to local hunger relief organizations.

Eric Townsend,
9/30/2011 10:11 AM