Student leaders’ months of planning for the most important days of the Jewish calendar will culminate next week at the start of Rosh Hashanah
By Charlie Summers
Jewish groups on campus are finishing up preparation for the High Holiday season, which begins with Rosh Hashanah on Sunday evening.
Though students often return home to see family for the Jewish New Year, many who stay on campus need a place to pray.
Sophomore Aviel Taube was responsible for finding people to lead services and read Torah on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as the head gabbai of Kedma, this university’s Orthodox community. He will be going home for Rosh Hashanah but has ensured services are in order for those on campus.
“Most people in Kedma go home for Rosh Hashanah, there’s still gonna be a minyan on campus, we’re expecting that it’s probably not gonna be so big, 20 people maybe,” Taube said.
Yom Kippur, on the other hand, is one of the biggest fall semester events for Jewish groups.
“We started planning for Yom Kippur back in August, because we wanted to give people [who are leading prayer services] enough time to review all of the things that they need to do,” Taube said. “I’ve gone through all of the paragraphs that need to be skipped, all the things we sing out loud, and probably this next week I’ll just check in with all of them and make sure that they’re ready.”
Neshama, the Conservative-style group on campus, will be holding most of its services in the Memorial Chapel across campus from Hillel. It will have services on Rosh Hashanah evening and both days of the holiday, as well as on Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur day.
Maryland’s newly-reinvigorated Reform group, Ruach, will be holding services in the Hillel building. Although the group wasn’t as active last fall due to low turnout and a lack of leadership, it holds High Holiday services every year with support from Hillel.
Hillel engagement associate CJ Torcellini will help lead services on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as a songleader. He will be accompanied by two rabbis who will lead prayer.
Torcellini wants to ensure that attendees get the chance to talk to each other and form relationships, to strengthen Ruach’s community.
“It’ll be very much like a camp-style High Holiday service,” Torcellini said. “Very relaxed and community-oriented, we’ll be doing activities with legos, and telling stories, and reflecting on how we can build ourselves as people.”
Torcellini has been leading services every other Shabbat since this semester began.
“A part of leading is creating an exciting and meaningful High Holidays for everyone that comes,” he said.