JSA hosts events during Jewish holidays

For The News-Letter

Several major Jewish holidays occur every fall, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. To commemorate these holidays, the Jewish Student Association (JSA) has hosted several different events.

For Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the New Year on the Hebrew calendar, JSA hosted a Jewish New Year’s Party at Mex Baltimore. The profits from ticket sales were donated to a charity called Gift of Life, a bone marrow foundation.

Following Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is the holiday of Sukkot, which is generally a time of celebration. Part of the celebrations include the “sukkah,” a hut that Jews build every year to commemorate the ways that the ancient people of Israel lived in the desert after their exodus from Egypt. Sukkot is one of the three pilgrimage holidays during which Jews living in Israel would travel to Jerusalem to visit the Holy Temple and to offer sacrifices as a way of proclaiming their devotion to God.

It is traditional to eat meals in the sukkah, and some people even sleep in it. One of the most defining features of Sukkot is the ceremonial lulav and etrog. The lulav consists of three species of plants that allude to human body parts such as the spine, mouth and eyes, while the etrog represents the heart. It is traditional to hold the Four Species, the lulav and the etrog, together and wave them in four directions as a commitment of service to God.

JSA hosted a couple different events for Sukkot, including Bagels in the Sukkah and Jewish House of Pancakes (JHOP), a play on IHOP. Students got to choose from an assortment of toppings such as strawberries, bananas, chocolate and peanut butter chips and added them to premade pancake mix.

Freshman Ayelet Rosenberg commented on the event.

“I think it’s a really cute idea and a nice way to take a quick break from work to be with everyone and unwind,” Rosenberg wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

Before the holiday even officially began, students were invited to help build the sukkah at Hopkins Hillel as well as the one in front of the FFC. Students gathered on the morning before the holiday began and helped to put decorations such as lights and fall leaves.

The final day of Sukkot is called Simchat Torah, during which Jews celebrate the completion of the reading of the five books of the Torah. Hopkins Hillel hosted Hakafot, which consisted of dancing with the Torah, singing and just a general celebration.

Sophomore Daphna Varadi commented on her experience celebrating the holidays at Hopkins.

“I really miss my family and our traditions during this time of the year. Despite this, I have been able to join the Hopkins Jewish community to form new traditions. There are multiple services offered throughout the holidays and meals with other students, and Hillel faculty are always nice. Being able to publicly celebrate and share these experiences with people on campus is comforting and fun. Not being home for the holidays is weird but I consider myself lucky to have the Hopkins Hillel community here to share these holidays with,” Varadi wrote in an e-mail to The News-Letter.

JSA also hosted a pizza party and a Welcome Back BBQ as well as special Friday night dinners such as Young Alumni Shabbat and First Year Shabbat.

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