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Hillel, McNutt provide Jewish students High Holiday meals

Celebration feels close to home for some

POSTED AT 12:27 AM ON Oct. 1, 2008 


For many Jewish students, the meals and services Hillel offers during the High Holidays are a good substitute for their home holiday traditions. Jamie Greenberg, a freshman from Los Angeles, had tears in her eyes when asked what it was like to be away from home during Rosh Hashanah.

“It’s just so hard because my whole family is calling me and wishing me a happy New Year,” Greenberg said.

The Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah began at sundown Monday as more than 120 Jewish students gathered in McNutt Residence Center for a kosher meal before heading to evening holiday services.

The meal was provided by the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center and marked the beginning of the Jewish New Year.

The tables were set with bottles of grape juice and challah – the traditional bread eaten at Jewish holidays and on the Shabbat. Also, apple slices and honey were provided to symbolize a sweet new year.

Freshman Carly Ettinger from Minnesota said she would normally be at a friend’s house with her family.

“It’s weird that I’m not there when everyone else is,” she said.

This year, about 4,500 Jewish students are enrolled at IU. The Hillel Center offers services for both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which begins Oct. 8.

Carlie Weisbrod, engagement associate at Hillel, said it might be hard for some students to celebrate the holidays this year because they fall in the middle of the week. 

“Students have school and feel obligated to go to class because they’ll fall behind or because they’re in some of the more competitive classes,” she said. “They’re torn between two things.”

IU does excuse students for Jewish holidays but requires students to fill out an excused absence form at the beginning of the semester. Sophomore Jill Cogan said she and her friends had a hard time taking the day off.

“A lot of my friends couldn’t get out of their classes because they have so much work,” Cogan said.

Some Hillel staff members also recognize students’ difficulties.

“It’s one of the things we face as staff who are trying to make this a warm and welcoming experience for everyone,” Weisbrod said. “Life as we know it is going on around us even though something really important to Jews is happening.”

Despite the obstacles some might face, students said the Hillel Center really is a home away from home. 

“Hillel makes it really easy to be away from home,” said freshman Hope Spector. “They offer a lot of options. You’re with your friends.”

After the dinner, Hillel offered two services at St. Paul Catholic Center, 1413 E. 17th St., and offered two there on Tuesday.

For students experiencing homesickness during the Jewish holidays, Spector suggested they hang out with new people as often as possible.

“You’ll make the place become your home, and you won’t feel homesick,” Spector said. 


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