As the COVID-19 pandemic reaches its tenth month, students have had to modify their usual holiday plans this year. While this is the season filled with joy and giving, COVID-19 has done nothing but take things away. While the holidays can’t be celebrated the traditional way, here are some examples of how IU's Jewish community is handling the holidays this season.
For IU’s Jewish organizations, their Hanukkah traditions have had to adapt along with the rest of campus. Eli Goldstein joined the Hooshir A Cappella group last year, so his time with the organization has been greatly affected by the pandemic.
A typical year for the Hooshir A Cappella group involves traveling to different synagogues, to Washington D.C. and a big holiday concert. Unfortunately, none of those usual things were possible this semester.
To replace its usual events, the group is recording a CD with their usual mix of Jewish worship songs and pop songs.
“We’ve been working on, as our main project, a CD this year instead of traveling,” Goldstein said. “So, we’re going to be recording next semester and we’ve been focusing most of our time on learning a bunch of new pieces and just getting ready to record the CD because we haven't been able to travel anywhere.”
Typically, the group would be using the second half of the fall semester to prepare for its holiday concert, but as that was impossible this year, the department of Jewish studies gave a grant to the group to record their CD. .
“It’s been good, it’s definitely been an experience,” Goldstein said. “Usually, how the year goes, we’re just preparing for the next concert so we don't learn too many new pieces. We just continually get better on pieces that everybody is already familiar with, so it’s been a different experience, but I think it’s been a good one as well.”
Overall, COVID-19 was not able to ruin thefriendships that are made within Hooshir A Cappella.
“We’ve gotten really close, especially this year, just because we’ve had to bubble up, so we've basically become each other’s main social group, and it’s really worked out pretty well and we’ve gotten pretty close and been able to avoid the large social gatherings that have been happening,” Goldstein said.
Similar to Hooshir A Cappella, IU’s Chabad House directors Sheina and her husband Levi Cunin are doing all they can to bring the usual holiday magic to the 2020 season.
Now that Hanukkah is fast approaching, the Cunin's are going full steam ahead to bring their organization as close together as possible. They advertised a menorah kit on their instagram (@chabadiu) where students could RSVP to get their kit sent right to their front door.
Along with the kits there will be a challenge every night leading up to Hanukkah, eight nights of inspiration, and a festival of putting up lights. Because everyone from the organization is so scattered this year, they wanted something to create a sense of community for their members.
“We really wanted to come up with something so that students could celebrate Hanukkah, even though they're not even here we wanted to offer them something,” Sheina Cunin said. “We thought it was important that they feel a sense of community. We don't want any students feeling lonely. They’re alone, but they’re really doing it together.”
This year is the first year that Sheina and Levi are directing the organization.
“The goal and the objective has always been the same, to be there for the student body,” Levi said. “The situation changed a little and the students need it now more than ever, a sense of community and sense of normality as we adapt to the situation.”