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Monday, August 31, 2015 | Last updated: 12:52pm

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Hillel celebrates Rosh Hashanah

By Ellen Mitchell / The State News

The Hillel Jewish Student Center kicks off Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, with food, spirits and a family away from home. Students discuss their favorite part of Rosh Hashanah and what it means to them.

The MSU Hillel Jewish Student Center was a flurry of activity last night, as nearly 200 students packed the dining hall to share food and celebrate the 5,772nd Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.

Beginning at sundown Wednesday, Rosh Hashanah, or “head of the year” in Hebrew, celebrates the new year and starts the 10 days of reflection that lead to the Jewish holiday of
Yom Kippur.

One of the most widely celebrated holidays of the Jewish faith, the Hillel Center, 360 Charles St., kicked off the celebrations by opening its doors to all students for a free dinner and a service.

“It’s hard when you’re far from home,” said Sam Appel, president of the Jewish Student
Union. “People from out of town don’t always feel comfortable going to the synagogues in the area so it’s very difficult for them. It’s really nice to have a place to come like Hillel and celebrate with other students.”

The celebrations, held at MSU since 1939, include the blowing of the shofar, an instrument made from a ram’s or goat’s horn, and is one of the most recognizable rituals of Rosh Hashanah. Sweet foods such as apples dipped in honey are also eaten to represent a sweet new year.

By Josh Radtke / The State News
Rabbi in residence Josh Foster, left, and scholar in residence Daniel Horwitz prepare the Torahs Wednesday afternoon at the Hillel Jewish Student Center, 360 Charles St., for the Rosh Hashanah service. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year.

“My favorite part of the holiday is spending time with the students,” said Cindy Hughey, executive director for the Hillel Center. ”I enjoy seeing them connect with the Jewish tradition.”

Although Rosh Hashanah is supposed to be one of the more joyous Jewish holidays, Appel said it also is a means of getting ready to perform good deeds in the year ahead.

Audrey Bloomberg, a 2006 MSU alumna, said her fondest memories of the holiday always include her family.

“There’s just good memories of being around a big dinner table surrounded by my family,” Bloomberg said. “My family eats special food my mom only makes once a year, and it’s just a fun day to spend together.”

Now the director of student life at the Hillel Center, Bloomberg said she uses the holiday season to talk with students on how the new year affects them, who they are as a person and the challenges they can take to be better.

“While a lot of the holiday is family tradition, it also makes you stop and think about life, where you’re going and where you’ve been,” Bloomberg said.

A dinner also will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Hillel Center.

“If you want to just come eat, come eat,” Appel said.

“We just want to leave it open for everyone.”

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