After 10 “Days of Awe” full of solemn reflection, Jewish students began yesterday to look ahead to a new year and a refreshed spirit. But the traditional day of atonement carried a more somber note than usual after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington only two weeks ago.
“The ancient rabbis wrote that one of the expectations of God on Yom Kippur is to have a broken heart,” said third-year Law student Joshua Brook. “Some years it requires a lot of psychological work to get to that place. But this year, everyone”s heart is broken.”
But while the holiday was accompanied by feelings of sadness, “They haven”t affected the ways in which we celebrate,” said Rabbi Shena Potter of Hillel. “The mood is even more somber than usual, but we think there has been an even greater turnout.”
Wearing yarmulkes and carrying prayer books, hundreds of University students attended services yesterday at the Power Center and Hillel.
“The first step is to acknowledge sins, ask those you”ve wronged for forgiveness, and then you are entitled to ask God for forgiveness. Yom Kippur is the last chance to do that,” Potter said.
Yom Kippur is often accompanied by a 25-hour fast that begins on the evening prior to the holiday.
“Fasting is a form of atonement and is used to focus on the more spiritual things of this world,” Potter said.
Because of the great importance of the holiday to the Jewish community, many professors allowed students to miss class.
“Teachers were very accommodating, as they should be,” said LSA senior Dena Zamore. “I don”t consider that I am missing class because this is what is important to me today.”
“It”s a day of renewal, to atone not only for bad things done in general, but bad things done to other people. It”s a renewal of spirit,” Zamore added.
The Jewish holiday season continues for another two weeks. It includes the Festival of Sukkot and concludes with Simchat Torah on Oct.10.