Hillel celebrates a sweet new year

Hillel, the Jewish Student Union, held a Rosh Hashanah party on Tuesday evening to commemorate the new year, which takes place on the first and second day of Tishrei, the seventh month on the Hebrew Calendar.

In Brower Student Center room 210, chairs were arranged in a circle, while tables were covered with an assortment of apple-related items and heaps of honey.

“(Rosh Hashanah is) a two-day holiday starting in the evening Wednesday until sundown on Friday,” Evan Greenberger, senior philosophy major, said. “(It’s) a happy holiday and a fun event and we want members of the Jewish community (at the College) to have a way to celebrate and to have a family here. We had the same event last year. It was successful so we decided to do it again.”

“Since people are going to temple (on Wednesday), we decided to have the party today so that we can have our cake and eat it too — or in this case, our apple pie,” Greenberger said, referring to the fact that Rosh Hashanah was actually the next day.

Apple crisp, apple slices, apple bread, Appletini mocktails and apple-grape juice were among the items that filled the blue-clothed table.

The honey was available in sticks and bear-shaped containers because, according to Greenberger, “everything is better in bear form.”

But, what’s with all the apples? “Usually (for Rosh Hashanah) we eat apples and honey and go to temple. The apples represent a bountiful harvest,” Greenberger said.

Junior psychology major Brittany Gilbert echoed Greenberger’s thoughts. “It’s about equating good food with the New Year. Apples and honey represent a sweet new year, which is ultimately what you want.”

Described as a holiday of reflection and celebration, Rosh Hashanah is about more than just eating saccharine snacks.

“It’s important to reflect on the past year and to be thankful for what you have and to ask for forgiveness,” Gilbert said.

Activities at the party mainly included eating and socializing, but there were other options.

Later in the evening, one student led Israeli dancing and at 8 p.m. they had a pretend countdown to the new year. There was a table set up with construction paper and markers where participants could make Rosh Hashanah cards.

The cards were taken to Abram’s House, an assisted living center in Ewing, to wish its residents a pleasant new year.

“We’ve done work with them before,” Greenberger said. “One to two times a month we bring students to visit.”

Not only does Hillel reach out to the community, but they have also created an undeniable sense of community within their organization.

“It’s hard being away because for me (Rosh Hashanah) represents time with family,” Ava Boxer, sophomore special education and English double major, said. “Even if you can’t be with your family, it’s about community. So it’s nice to have people come out to these events and get that feeling.”

Similarly, Gilbert said, “I transferred from a school with a large Jewish population. We have the inverse here, but I like the close-knit community (of Hillel). I know everyone by name.”