UConn students celebrate Rosh Hashanah in hopes of a sweet new year 


Every fall, members of the Jewish community observe the High Holidays, which start the new year of the Hebrew calendar. University of Connecticut students participated in many events to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, observed on the first two days of the Jewish New Year. This tradition has been embraced and adapted to promote inclusivity and interfaith dialogue. 

UConn’s two Jewish student organizations, Chabad and Hillel, host co-sponsored dinners, services and events for the holiday season. Part of the Rosh Hashanah tradition is the Tashlich ceremony, which was held at Mirror Lake this year. Rabbi Shlomo Hecht led a prayer and explained that Tashlich symbolizes an ask for forgiveness from the previous year by tossing breadcrumbs into flowing water. He emphasized the importance of reflection and renewal, irrespective of one’s religious background. “Tashlich is not just about seeking forgiveness but also about embracing growth and change,” he said. Historically, Jewish kings were crowned near bodies of water as a symbol of outpouring kindness. 

As part of the ceremony, a shofar horn is blown to indicate a “wake-up call” to the New Year. The specific patterns of shofar blasts are meticulously regulated and include tekiyah (a long blast), shevarim (three shorter blasts) and teruah (nine rapid, staccato blasts), followed by another tekiyah. Once the prayer has concluded, apples and honey are enjoyed to signal a sweet year to come. “When I was at home I was really connected, but in moving to college, I knew it would be more difficult,” Leo Gold, a fourth-year computer science major remarked. “But getting together shows that it’s really valuable to have on campus.” 

“It’s nice to have because we’re a family, it’s really important to have that connection,” said Micah Fleischman, president of the Chabad student board. Many students find fellowship with UConn’s two Jewish student organizations. “Chabad at UConn was founded in order to build a Jewish community by promoting Jewish pride, study and celebration for all,” said Rabbi Hecht. “We’ve been trying to do that for eighteen years now.” Social mixers, Shabbat and holiday dinners, lectures and personal classes are just a few examples of the diverse programming UConn students can enjoy. 

UConn Hillel, the center for Jewish Students, located at the Trachten-Zachs House on North Eagleville Road, is also sponsoring a variety of events this fall, like a Jewish Life on Campus Expo next Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. and a variety of services and events in collaboration with Chabad. “I am proud to help support and inspire these students at UConn and look forward to our future,” said Jared White, assistant director of UConn Hillel. Part of the initiatives being promoted are Judaic Studies through UConn Global and Kosher Dining, which allows Jewish students to eat kosher as part of their regular dining plan at NOSH within Gelfenbien Refectory

In the tranquil setting by Mirror Lake, the UConn community proved that traditions can be bridges, connecting individuals from all walks of life in a collective pursuit of spiritual growth and understanding. For more information about the events sponsored by Chabad and Hillel, visit jewishuconn.com and uconnhillel.org.

Featured photo courtesy of UConn Hillel Instagram.

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