Jewish High Holy Day Primer 2019

From: Interfaith@Augsburg and Hillel at Augsburg

Below is a “High Holy Day Primer”-

  1. This is the Jewish High Holy Day season, which runs for the entire lunar month of Tishrei this year from Sunday evening, September 29 -Tuesday, October 30. Though Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur are on secular calendars, there is another 9-day holiday called Sukkot, right after Yom Kippur. It is a big harvest celebration.
  2. For college students, being away from home for these holidays can highlight the homesickness and the yearning to be in the nest, and for some, quite the opposite. If you celebrate Christmas, imagine staying on campus while most students return home for the holiday. If you celebrate Ramadan, this season is similar to that month of observance. There is now a Jewish student organization on campus called Hillel and students will try to find places for meals and for services. All synagogues and the University of Minnesota Hillel will welcome students, and we can help connect them.
  3. The second set of holidays, Sukkot, is likely much less observed among our students and faculty, though some students will not go to class on the first and last days of Sukkot. Supplemental reading can be found in Exodus 34:22 and Leviticus 23:42-43 for the biblical source of this holiday).
  4. There is a wide swath of Jewish observance among your Augsburg students, faculty and staff. Some adhere closely to the traditions, so they don’t write or use electricity on these major holidays. Others have very secular experiences, don’t celebrate these at all, or focus mostly on the feasting, not the religious and spiritual aspects of these holidays.
  5. The appropriate greeting for this season is, “Sha-NAH to-VAH”. meaning Happy New Year.
  6. How to be an ally:  All of this is to encourage you to have conversations with your Jewish students and colleagues about their observances. The Jewish students may or may not self-identify, so you may want to invite any Jewish students/faculty to talk with you about what this next month is for them, vis a vis classes. They will likely welcome the questions or the greetings. And you could also move important meetings or events away from Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur.  The 2019 dates for these holidays are:

Sunday, September 29, Rosh Hashannah begins at sundown.

Monday, September 30 is the first day of Rosh Hashannah.  Some American Jews celebrate for one day, others for two (we can discuss the lunar calendar another time).

Tuesday, October 1 is the second day of Rosh Hashannah for some Jews.

Tuesday, October 8, Yom Kippur begins an hour before sundown. Yom Kippur ends around 7:30pm Wednesday, October 9.

Sukkot begins at sundown on Sunday, October 13, and the first two days are “Holy Days” where some Jews don’t work, use electricity, engage in commerce. We build a sukkah (booth) and eat most of our meals there for 8 days, even if it rains or snows. The first half of Sukkot ends at an hour after sundown Tuesday, October 15.

Sukkot ends at sundown on either on October 18 or October 20, depending on personal observance. Again, a majority of American Jews do not celebrate this holiday or even know what it’s about.