COVID-19 disrupted many normal celebrations for religious organizations on Furman’s campus this past year. From preventing weekly social gatherings to inhibiting the observance of religious holidays—many student organizations were required to think creatively in order to celebrate their faiths. Fortunately, with the return to normal activities on campus this Fall, organizations like the Jewish Student Association of Furman (JSA) were able to celebrate Rosh Hashanah together.
Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration that signifies the start of the Jewish New Year, celebrated annually on the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew Calendar. Last year, members of JSA were unable to celebrate together due to the pandemic, according to JSA Interim President Alana Epstein ‘23. This Rosh Hashanah, Jewish students at Furman attended a service and dinner arranged by a local temple. “We were able to do everything together,” Epstein shared. “It was very fun to be celebrating with each other again!”
Even without regard to COVID-19, celebrating this holiday in a college environment looks different for students like Epstein. Prior to college, a typical Rosh Hashanah celebration for Epstein involved going to synagogue with her family and eating a celebratory dinner with close family friends. In contrast, at Furman Epstein attends a shortened service with other Jewish students, followed by a dinner with her peers. Although this way of celebrating is different, Epstein remarked that this “has still been a great way to celebrate.” As a student-athlete who lives a few hours from home, Epstein concluded that she stays connected with her faith by “recognizing the holidays and being with others.”
Some aspects of the celebration remain the same even at college. Epstein described a “few key items” that are essential to celebrating Rosh Hashanah. These include the blowing of the Shofar, a ram’s horn instrument, in every synagogue, and eating honey-dipped apples, which Epstein explained “symbolizes a sweet new year.”
Sept. 8 marked the end of Rosh Hashanah, which was celebrated this year from sundown Sept. 6 to sundown Sept. 8. The 10 days following Rosh Hashanah are known as the ‘Days of Awe,’ which lead up to Yom Kippur, which this year starts on sundown Sept. 15. To learn more about JSA and Jewish holiday celebrations, students can visit the JSA page on syncDin.