From Sept. 25 to Oct. 5, Jewish Life at Duke celebrated the High Holidays: Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. These days are considered the most important in the Jewish faith.
For many Jews, the High Holidays equate to spending time with family and friends, reflecting on one’s faith and eating good food. JLD helps create a home away from home for Jewish students at the University, especially during the High Holidays.
“Jewish Life at Duke provides a full complement of holiday programming for all Jewish holidays, and the High Holidays are no exception,” JLD Director Joyce Gordon wrote in an email to The Chronicle. She encourages students to take advantage of the University's Religious Observance policy so that they can miss class to observe the holidays.
Many Jewish students took advantage of Jewish Life at Duke’s programming. They attended services, enjoyed meals and spent time with friends at the Freeman Center, which is home to JLD.
Among these students was first-year Hayden Millman, who had a very positive experience with JLD’s Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur programming.
“The [JLD] services were much more engaging than my services at home. I felt very comfortable being surrounded by peers,” Millman said. “Having a place to celebrate the High Holidays is extremely important to me because it gives me a sense of home and fulfills my desires to stay connected to my religion.”
First-year Amelia Lane agreed with Millman, saying that she felt “really welcomed in the temple services” even though she was not at home.
Lane and first-year Eliza Sirovich said they felt the High Holidays united Jewish students and that fasting for Yom Kippur with friends made it a more meaningful and enjoyable experience.
Gordon wrote that not only are the High Holidays a time to come together with family and friends, they also take on important spiritual meanings for many Jewish people.
“I think that this period of introspection is one of the most important gifts that Judaism gives us—and is especially important for students, who face multiple competing demands, who are figuring out how to be their best selves, and who are figuring out how to not only be kind to others, but to themselves, too,” Gordon wrote.
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Michelle Brown a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter of The Chronicle's 118th volume.