Celebrate or Go to Class? How Maryland Students Will Observe Rosh Hashanah During the First Week of Class

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By Jamie Weissman

Students at the University of Maryland will celebrate Rosh Hashanah a little differently this year as they trade apples and honey for the first days of class.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and considered one of the most important holidays in the Jewish religion. This year the holiday begins on Sept. 4 and ends Sept. 6, leaving many students to choose between attending the first week of classes and celebrating the holiday.

Though some students are forgoing the celebrations in favor of class, the scheduling has inconvenienced many others. One student, sophomore Lauren Mishan, opted to miss class for the holidays and is returning home to Long Island to spend the holidays with her family.

“It’s really inconvenient that I have to miss two days of school because it’s an important holiday. We should start right after Rosh Hashanah because a huge population of the school is missing first days where we get a preview of how the semester is going to be,” the secondary education and government and politics major said.

Although students can obtain excused absences for religious reasons, classes will continue as normal, leaving many to feel that missing class may not be worth it.

“I don’t think I’m going to skip class because I have my busiest day on Thursday so it’s to miss and I hate making up work especially with 19 credits,” sophomore biology major Allie Levin said.

Sophomore communications major Meagan Blaier agrees, explaining, “ It’s annoying because we don’t have class on other holidays.”

Nonetheless, operations in College Park are continuing as normal. Though class will still begin on Sept. 3, many options will be available to observant students. For example, Chabad is offering services and meals for those staying on campus to celebrate the New Year. Hillel is also offering services as three different options: reform, conservative and orthodox for all three days of the holiday.

Besides services, Hillel is offering lunch and dinner options throughout the holiday.  Each day there will also be discussions and workshops such as “What will you do better this year?” and study sessions with rabbis and Hillel staff.

“I’m probably going to go to Hillel at night for services,” Levin said.

Rosh Hashanah, the first of the high holy days in Judaism, is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve and a day of judgment and coronation of God as king.

For more information on celebrations at Hillel and Chabad visit http://www.marylandhillel.org/highholidays2013 and http://www.umdchabad.org.

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