This upcoming week, Binghamton University students and faculty will enjoy an extended weekend in celebration of Rosh Hashana, a Jewish holiday that calls upon practitioners to reflect upon their past year and celebrate the onset of a new, more fruitful one. For students not heading home for the holiday, several organizations will offer ways to celebrate.
Rosh Hashana, according to Moshe Shmaryahu, a rabbi and cantor at Beth David Synagogue, celebrates the creation of the first man, Adam, while simultaneously bringing about the beginning and the end of the Jewish year.
As they have done in the past, BU’s Chabad will aim to create a genuine celebration for any BU students who will be remaining in town for this upcoming holiday. According to its website, Chabad is an organization that provides religious, educational, social and recreational programming for the Jewish student community and aims to be a place where all Jewish students can freely and openly discuss the Jewish faith. Levi Slonim, one of the rabbis at Chabad, wrote in an email that Chabad firmly believes Jewish traditions and customs are the birthright of every Jew, and that every Jew should have access to them.
“As in past years, Chabad will be offering warm, friendly and meaningful services and holiday meals in a homey atmosphere,” Slonim wrote. “For 35 years, Chabad has made high holiday services and holiday meals available free of charge, a model other synagogues and organizations around the world are aiming to replicate.”
Local temples, such as the orthodox Beth David Synagogue, located on Riverside Drive in Binghamton, are also opening their doors to celebrate the holiday. Shmaryahu said he sees the holiday as one of repentance, where practitioners and gentiles alike can figuratively throw away their sins of the past year.
“On Rosh Hashana, we think of what we did and what we will do for the next year,” Shmaryahu said. “A day of making recollection thinking of what good things and bad things we did during the year. We will go to the Susquehanna River to throw our sins into the river and ask God for forgiveness.”
The throwing away of sins will occur on at 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Barbara Goldman-Wartell, a rabbi of Temple Concord and an adjunct lecturer of Judaic studies at BU, added that the sounding of the traditional shofar horn throughout the holiday is a reminder of the self-reflection. Temple Concord is also located on Riverside Drive in Binghamton.
“The sounding of the shofar is sort of an alarm to wake us up to think rationally and see things more clearly,” Goldman-Wartell said. “This is a period of time where we do a sort of reckoning in ourselves, but it is also a celebratory time where we eat sweet and round foods because the circle has no end and we hope that our prosperity will be the same.”
Whether students are ringing in the new year alongside their family or in Binghamton, any Jew or gentile can commemorate this upcoming Rosh Hashana with some sense of community. Shmaryahu said while everyone observes the holiday in different ways, all can find solace in Binghamton.
“Everyone celebrates in their own way, usually with symbolic fruits, such as pomegranate, and fish,” Shmaryahu said. “Symbolically we eat apples dipped with honey to ask God to make our life sweet like honey. However, everyone is welcome to join us in our celebration.”
Molly Singer, a junior majoring in nursing, wrote that Hillel and Chabad’s services enable her to enjoy the holiday at BU even more.
“I love spending time with my [BU] family and friends, while enjoying meaningful services, lavish meals and delicious sweet treats,” Singer said.