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Jewish students at OU to observe Yom Kippur

Correction appended.

On Tuesday, Jewish students will be tucking into a large meal before sundown with the intent to prepare for the ordeal of the next day. In the following 26 hours, until a shofar is sound at sundown on the next day, they will abstain from all food and drink. 

Yom Kippur, which translates as Day of Atonement or Day of Forgiveness, will be observed beginning sundown Tuesday and ending at sundown Wednesday. Both Chabad at Ohio University and Hillel at OU will each hold three services in observance of the holiday.

Yom Kippur is the most important holiday on the Jewish calendar. The origin of the holiday traces back to Moses praying for God's forgiveness for his people’s worship of the golden calf. The day he returned from Mount Sinai was designated as Yom Kippur. 

It is a hallowed day for the Jewish people. To them, it is the most important day of the year, as it is the day they pray for forgiveness for past transgressions or misdeeds of the previous year. If they have done something wrong spiritually, they will spend the day in prayer to God for forgiveness. If they have done something wrong to another person, they will spend the day or the week before seeking out the person they wronged in an effort to atone for what they did.

Yom Kippur is not as celebratory as many holidays. Instead, a practitioner purposefully regulates themselves rather than gorging on food and drink. There is a large feast before and after Yom Kippur, but it is done mainly with the intent of preparation and recovery from the fast. Foods served are usually traditional Jewish foods such as challah, a kind of bread, and kugel, a noodle pudding. 

Taylor Pacelli, social chair for Chabad, said fasting during Yom Kippur can be difficult, but afterwards she felt mentally uplifted.

“I think it's a great holiday,” Pacelli, a junior studying journalism, said. “It keeps people going. It makes people feel better about what they’ve done. People hold grudges on themselves and I hope it makes them feel better like it does to me.”

Despite Yom Kippur’s importance, many students have trouble taking time off from classes in order to participate in it due to the minority population of students who practice the holiday, Brianna Becker, director of Jewish life at Hillel, said.

“It’s unfair that other religious holidays receive federally mandated holidays for practice, yet we have trouble gaining the day off for the most important day of the year,” Becker said. 

She explained although Hillel has contacted university administration regarding the issues, problems are still occurring with students in relation to particular professors and classes.

Levi Raichik, rabi and co-director of Chabad, said he is happy to help any student who has trouble getting time off of school so they are able to celebrate the holiday fully.

“Praying is often difficult for people,” Raichik said. “Even people who pray that day have an easier time with it. It feels like a fresh start after the Jewish new year to strengthen new year's resolutions so they don’t fall to the wayside.”


Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated the day on which Yom Kippur ends. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information. 

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