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Jewish New Year begins tomorrow night

By Kylee Dawson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
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Hillel offers campus services, dinners for UA students to celebrate Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur

The Hillel Foundation will offer services for Jewish students who are unable to travel home for the Jewish New Year, which begins tomorrow.

Rosh Hashana begins at sundown tomorrow and the Hillel Foundation will host both Conservative and Reform services on campus.

"We expect over 500 students to be attending one service or another during the course of the holidays," said Melissa Blumenberg, executive director of the Hillel Foundation.

"Following services, everyone will come together for a Rosh Hashana dinner, which will be a home-cooked kosher holiday meal," said Shara Grifenhagen, Hillel program director.

Jewish people believe Rosh Hashana commemorates the creation of the world, but it is also a day of judgment on which God decides what the coming year will be like for people based on their good deeds and bad deeds in the past year.

"People dip apples in honey to symbolize their wishes for a sweet new year," Blumenberg said.

Rosh Hashana is the first two of 10 days of repentance, also known as the days of awe, in which people ask God for forgiveness of their own sins and the sins of others from the past year.

The final day of the 10 days, Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement - is the most sacred day of the Jewish calendar and begins on the evening of Sept. 24.

Jewish people believe that on that day God makes the final decision on what the next year will be like for each person, depending on whether one has properly repented for one's sins.

Typically, Jewish people mark Yom Kippur by abstaining from food and water from sunset to sunset. Depending on how observant the person is, he or she may also abstain from sex, bathing, perfume and other personal products and wearing leather shoes.

Grifenhagen said that because there are different forms of Judaism, including Orthodox Judaism, some people celebrate Jewish holidays differently than others, but the Hillel Foundation will hold only Reform and Conservative services.

Julie Novakoff, a psychology senior, will be attending Conservative services tomorrow night, but said she would rather be celebrating the holidays with her family.

"My mom cooks a big meal and we all go to the temple together," she said.

Novakoff said she is attending services at Hillel instead of going home because she has a test for her statistics class Thursday.

She said it is hard to truly feel and immerse herself in Rosh Hashana and engage in the activities because of the interruption of having to go to class.

Stephanie Grossman, a nutritional sciences sophomore, will attend Reform services tomorrow night. She attended Rosh Hashana services at the Hillel Foundation last year.

Before she began attending the UA, Grossman said she would spend the holidays at home with her family in Phoenix.

"I go to services with my immediate family and we all have dinner together," she said. "We have challah, apples and honey and sing songs."

Reform Judaism began in the late 19th century when Jewish practitioners moved from Europe to North America.

Reform Judaism involves belief in the central tenets of Judaism - God, the Torah, Israel and social action - according to the Union for Reform Judaism's Web site.

"Judaism is also a living religion, and the Torah is a living document, which is open to new interpretations in modern times," Blumenberg said.

Conservative Judaism is between Reform and Orthodox Judaism, according to Blumenberg, who cited Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's book, "Jewish Literacy."

"(Conservative Judaism) is bound by almost all Torah rituals and Torah ethics, but unlike Orthodoxy, it regards itself free to introduce innovations in Jewish law, particularly in the laws formulated in the Talmud," Blumenberg said.

Conservative Rosh Hashana services will be led by astronomy professor Richard Green in the Hillel Foundation basement tomorrow at 6:15 p.m., and Thursday and Friday at 9:30 a.m.

Reform services will be lead by Rabbinical student Sari Laufer and UA student Drew Alyeshmerni at the Student Union Memorial Center in the Grand Ballroom tomorrow at 6 p.m. Services continue Thursday at 10 a.m.

Tickets are free for students, but reservations are recommended. Non-UA students are also welcome, but will be asked to give a donation.

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