Rosh Hashanah Celebrations

Sophie Cheng ’24 in News | September 22, 2023

          Last Friday, September 15 marked the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This non-working holiday was celebrated on campus with religious services, meals, and observances. Lawrenceville’s Rosh Hashanah ceremonies were led by Rabbi Lauren Levy H’97 ’01 ’12 ’02 ’09 and the Jewish Students Organization.

          Levy explained traditions and customs important to this holiday, such as wishing others “L’Shanah Tovah,” which translates into “Happy New Year.” During Synagogue services, special prayers are recited and a “ram’s horn [shofar] is blown as a reminder to better our relationships.” She also clarified that it is only after bettering such relationships that one can “face [their] relationship with God.”

          Levy also emphasized the symbolic importance of food for the holiday, as “all foods have a specific meaning.” Traditional Rosh Hashanah foods include apples dipped in honey and round foods such as challah bread, which represent the “cyclical nature of the year,” Levy explained. More generally, the customary holiday dishes revolve around “Eastern European dishes, Middle Eastern food, and a lot of sweet apple and honey dishes,” she added. Each dish has a unique history, serving as a reminder of Jewish tradition and identity.

          On the 15, Levy hosted a Rosh Hashanah dinner at her home with the help of JSO leaders Daphne Volpp ’24 and Chris Yen ’24. As the celebration revolves around family and community, Levy welcomed guests into her home for the traditional holiday. In addition to the “meats, brisket, chicken, savory potato-based kugel, and sweet noodle kugel with apples” Levy talked about preparing, the dinner also included “observances at home, a family-style Kosher meal, and a visit to Synagogue.” During Synagogue, they “listened to special readings from the Torah.”

          Overall, the Rosh Hashanah dinner and services were an opportunity for Jewish students on campus to find a religious community and participate in religious customs on an important holiday.