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Hillel celebrates Rosh Hashanah with campus festivities

by Rachel Southmayd,

Across the globe, most people count January 1 as the first day of the new year. But for people in the Jewish faith, this day is celebrated on the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. This year, the New Year came in the middle of September.

"This is Elon University's first Rosh Hashanah dinner," Hillel Director Nancy Luberoff said.
Elon University's Hillel organization helped Jewish students celebrate with a variety of events last week.

On the evening of Wednesday Sept. 8, several dozen students gathered in Harden Dining Hall for a kosher meal, with special additions from Hillel, including apples and honey, challah, homemade honey cake and pomegranate seeds, all foods symbolic of Rosh Hashanah.

"We eat apples and honey for a sweet new year," Luberoff said.

She also said that pomegranate seeds are special because each fruit contains 613 seeds, the same amount as the number of commandments in the Jewish holy text, the Torah. Challah, a traditional bread, is in the shape of round loaves on Rosh Hashanah to symbolize the cyclical nature of the year.

Hillel students said blessings over the food and senior Tracy Weisberg blew the "shofar," a ram's horn that makes a sound like a muted trumpet. She said it is used to call in the New Year.

Sam Kahane is a sophomore who has attended Hillel events in the past.

"It helps me identify with my Jewish culture," he said. "And the food's amazing."
Luberoff said she was touched by the amount of students who came out to celebrate at the dinner.

"I'm just thrilled that we have enough people to have a common meal like this," she said.
On Thursday Sept. 9, Hillel held a Tashlich service on the shore of Lake Mary Nell. In Hebrew, "tashlich" means "casting off" and students threw pieces of bread in the water to symbolize the casting off of sins from the previous year.

Weisberg said she was pleased with the turnout at the Rosh Hashanah meal.

"I think it's just a good opportunity, especially with freshmen," she said.

For many of the first-year students in attendance, this was their first exposure to the Hillel organization at Elon.

"It's good to see everyone all coming out together," said Ilana Israel, a first- year student. "I think it's basically a good way to celebrate the New Year."

Hillel also offered transportation to several different services in the area throughout the New Year's week and held their usual weekly Shabbat service in the Truitt Center for Religious Studies on Friday evening.