During the High Holy Days this year, KU Hillel provided students with services and events to attend if they couldn’t make it home for the holidays.
On Erev Rosh Hashanah, Hillel hosted hors devours and services at the KU Student Union, where students could then go to Chabad’s Erev Rosh Hashanah dinner if they wanted. Hillel and Chabad coordinated timing of events to avoid conflicts and to create mutually compatible opportunities for students.
Sophomores Ben Schenberg and Max Gendler, along with junior Mackenzie Haun, lead songs throughout the service with Rabbi Neal Schuster. Other students also had the opportunity to lead different prayers.
“Everyone’s there who wants to be there and it’s fun because everyone drops whatever work or school stuff they have to come and do something meaningful and celebrate,” Gendler said. “I really like leading, but it’s also just fun being with everyone and singing songs and praying together.”
Both the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at Hillel provided students a place to celebrate and feel somewhat at home while taking a short break from their upcoming midterms.
Junior Lizzie Altman, who helped plan Hillel’s break fast following Yom Kippur, said the option to attend Hillel’s High Holy Day events gives her a Jewish community at school to celebrate the holidays. Altman, who is from St. Louis, said she has trouble missing class for the holidays, so she is grateful to be able to attend Hillel.
“I want everyone to feel a sense of community during high Holidays so I wanted to help plan,” Altman said. “I liked that I was with all of my close friends so I didn't feel uncomfortable or unwelcomed and I liked that it reminded me of home in a way.”
Sophomore Marlena Geller, like Altman and Gendler, said Hillel’s holiday events allowed her to still feel connected to the holidays and celebrate them despite school work.
“Being at Hillel was like a home away from home for me because I’m an out of state kid,” Geller said.