By Brogan Gerhart
Ometz hosted a special Havdallah celebration complete with singing, service and food at Hillel Saturday night.
Ometz is a student-led, Egalitarian community based on Conservative Judaism at this university whose mission is to provide interested Jewish students with meaningful opportunities to connect religiously, intellectually and culturally with Judaism, according to their website.
The celebration began at 7 p.m. with attendees sitting in a circle and being led in traditional songs from High Holiday services and more familiar Hebrew tunes.
After singing until sunset, the event shifted to the traditional evening service.
This concluded with the standing prayer, the Amidah. This portion of the service included the blessings over wine, or in this case grape juice, fire and spices.
The wine, fire and spices all have significance in traditional Havdallah practice. The wine represents the overflowing blessings wished for in the upcoming week. The fire, lit on a candle made of multiple wicks, represents the gift of light. The multiple uses of fire and the smelling of the spices represents our uplifted spirit.
Ben Rosenbaum, a sophomore history and social studies secondary education major, said his title within Ometz is “Gabbai,” which he said means he helps with all the religious components of the service.
“I think it’s important for Egalitarian people aligned with Conservative Judaism to have their opportunity for services,” Rosenbaum said. “And in general, more religious ritual practice.”
Cookies, cupcakes and ice cream were served after the final service prayer.
Daniel Rothschild, a sophomore engineering major, said that it was his first time attending an event that was more centered around religion than socialization.
“It was a lot of fun,” Rothschild said. “It’s different than a lot of other stuff I’ve been to, it’s a lot more intimate.”
Havdallah, which in Hebrew means the “separation,” recognizes the ending of the Sabbath and the beginning of a new week. It separates the yesterday from today, which is now tomorrow.
In Judaism, the day begins at nighttime, said Hayden “Uri” Farber, a religious school instructor at Ohr Kodesh Congregation and one of the Ometz members who helped lead the Havdallah celebration.
“In the Torah it says that God stopped working on the seventh day,” Farber said. “Therefore, so should you. We’ve brought that with us from the days of old and what it has become is a day to stop. To rest. To be an island in time away from the rest of the world and say ‘Hey, we’re Jews, we’re a people, we’re a community. Let’s step back for a second, let’s be with each other and let’s rest.’”