Indiana Daily Student

Yom Kippur offers Jews a new start

Observers might see students throwing bread into Jordan River today.\nThis act takes on meaning in an ancient ritual tradition in which members of the Jewish community ask forgiveness for their sins and prepare for a new year.\nRosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, was celebrated Saturday. This occasion marks the beginning of Tishri, the seventh month of the Jewish calender and a month of several religious observances. Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holidays, and today is the second of these holidays -- Yom Kippur, which literally means, "the Day of Atonement."\nAmi Trockman, a senior majoring in Jewish studies, said Yom Kippur is an opportunity for Jews to reaffirm their ties to God through the atonement of their sins. The ritual of throwing the bread, called tashlich in Hebrew, is a metaphor for casting away one's sins.\n"Yom Kippur is a time of reflection," Trockman said. "It is a time to sit back and review the past year, kind of like the traditional American New Year. We make resolutions, and try to resolve conflicts in our lives."\nSince the Jewish day begins and ends at sundown, Sunday nightmarked the beginning of a day-long fast for observant Jews. This is one of the most important practices of Yom Kippur, as Jews are supposed to take the day to focus on their transgressions.\n"Fasting is a way to separate yourself from daily life," senior Gene Eydelman said. "It makes you remove yourself from what is comfortable and concentrate on what it means to be Jewish."\nIt is also customary for people to wear white during their fast, and rules forbid the wearing of leather shoes, makeup and a variety of other things. But not everyone adheres to these traditions today.\n"I think a lot of (Jewish) people are unaware of the more obscure restrictions," senior David Rubin said. "In the end, it's the idea of the holiday that is important." \nHe also said Yom Kippur is a unique holiday in the Jewish year. Its underlying purpose is akin to the Catholic practice of confession, in which adherents admit wrongdoings and ask for forgiveness.\nBut while Catholics often attend confession many times during the year, to Jews Yom Kippur is a singular opportunity to confront their sins.\n"It's the only chance to make up for the wrong things that you do during the year," Rubin said.\nEydelman said many Jews who are not very religious still attend services during the High Holidays.\n"I don't attend normal services on a regular basis, but I always observe the High Holidays," Eydelman said. "It's the only time of year I have to correct myself on a more spiritual level."\nTrockman said she agrees Yom Kippur is one of the more widely observed Jewish holidays.\n"The High Holidays are the most important Jewish holidays," she said. "A lot of people who don't normally go to services during the rest of the year come out for these two days. It's kind of like Christmas and Easter for a lot of Christians."\nThe Helene G. Simon Hillel Center, 730 E. Third St., regularly holds services during the rest of the year, but Trockman said, "so many people come out for Yom Kippur, we have to rent out St. Paul's (Catholic church) for some of the ceremonies, just to accommodate everyone. It's kind of funny."\nNe'ilah, Yom Kippur's closing ceremony, will be at the Hillel Center 6 p.m. today.

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