Archive for Saturday, September 18, 2004

Family important to Jews while observing High Holidays

September 18, 2004


Whether Jews are religiously observant or mainly secular when the High Holidays come around in the fall, many of them can be found worshipping in synagogue.

That's something Andrew Terkel, a 19-year-old sophomore at Kansas University, has observed annually.

"A lot of Jews who aren't very active will come to services. I go to a temple in Tulsa (Okla.), and on a regular Friday night, a couple hundred people will come," he said.

"But on High Holidays, there's a lot more -- a couple thousand. It's nice to go to services and see that many people praying together."

Terkel serves as the religious chair for KU Hillel, 901 Miss., the university's Jewish organization for the 1,500 to 1,800 Jews on campus.

Lawrence Jews, including many KU students, are in the midst of observing the High Holidays, a 10-day period that encompasses Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Repentance). This period on the Jewish calendar -- which marks the holiest days of the year -- is often referred to as the Ten Days of Awe.

Rosh Hashana started at sundown Wednesday and lasted until sundown Friday. The Lawrence Jewish Community Center, 917 Highland Drive, had worship services Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Yom Kippur, the single holiest day for Jews, will begin at sundown Friday and end at sundown Sept. 25.

The High Holidays extend from the first day to the 10th day of Tishri, the seventh month of the year on the Hebrew calendar. For Jews, this past Rosh Hashana marked the year 5,765.

Rosh Hashana is a time of family gatherings, special meals and sweet-tasting foods. Jews consider it to be the Day of Judgment, when God begins to decide the fate of humans for the coming year.

The Jewish High Holidays, known as the Ten Days of Awe, are from Sept. 15 to Sept. 25.¢ Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, was celebrated Wednesday through Friday with worship services at the Lawrence Jewish Community Center, 917 Highland Drive.¢ Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, will begin at sundown Friday and end at sundown Sept. 25.¢ The Kol Nidre service that begins the day of fasting will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union.¢ There will be Yom Kippur worship services at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. (Yizkor) and 6 p.m. (Mincha and Neilah) Sept. 25 at the Jewish center.There will be a break around 2 p.m. Sept. 25, and a breaking of the fast at 8 p.m.

Yom Kippur, meanwhile, is a solemn day of fasting, reflection and prayers. This is the Day of Atonement, when the fate of humans is sealed by God. The most sacred moment of Yom Kippur is the Kol Nidre, a somber prayer that is recited at nightfall at the beginning of the fast.

Family and friends

For KU students, the High Holidays often pose a dilemma: a time of deciding whether to stay at school and celebrate with friends, or travel home to be with family.

Observing the High Holidays, especially if a student chooses to go home, usually means missing a day or two of classes. The situation's much easier for students whose families live in the Kansas City area. This year, Yom Kippur happens to fall on a Friday and Saturday, making it more likely that students will travel home.

Melissa Horen, a 20-year-old KU sophomore from Overland Park, said she will be able to celebrate both Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur with her family.

Horen said she also planned to bring a contingent of 10 friends from KU home with her for Rosh Hashana.

"My mom's very excited; she's happy to do it. My friends are very thankful and appreciative. They're excited to have a home-cooked meal," said Horen, Hillel's student president.

Celebrating the High Holidays actually played a role when Horen, a Reform Jew, was choosing a college to attend.

"Being with my family is important, and it influenced my decision to stay closer for school so I can celebrate with them. Other students have to fly or drive home, and that's hard in the middle of the week for a Jewish holiday," she said.

Terkel said he was invited to be among the group of KU students going to Horen's house in Overland Park for Rosh Hashana dinner.

For Yom Kippur, Terkel said he intends to return home to Broken Arrow, Okla. His family worships at a Reform Jewish temple in nearby Tulsa.

"It's nice to go home and break the fast (after sundown Sept. 25) with old family friends," he said.

Services fill auditorium

Each year, the Lawrence Jewish Community Center offers High Holiday worship services. They are jointly promoted by the center and KU Hillel, and lots of KU students attend them.

The evening service (Kol Nidre) marking the start of Yom Kippur always draws the largest number of worshippers, so it takes place at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union.

This year, the Kol Nidre service will be at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24. All of the Sept. 25 Yom Kippur services will be at the Lawrence Jewish Community Center.

jPolli Kenn, KU Hillel's program director, said about 400 students were active at Hillel.

"We may end up with about 100 students who go to (High Holiday) services here in town. Then we probably have at least that many who are going home to Kansas City or taking friends home with them," she said.

"Then other students make it all the way home, wherever that may be."

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