Story by Kathryn Kriss
Yom Kippur is right around the corner. For most students at Drake University, this doesn’t mean much, but for the Jewish population, it’s the day lives are put on hold to welcome the new year.
A time for reflection, both on your faith and your past year, Yom Kippur is usually accompanied by fasting.
The whole day, sundown to sundown, is supposed to be focused on religion with no distractions like eating, working or studying.
Everyone takes a different interpretation of Yom Kippur based on his or her faith and what their body can tolerate.
For nearly all students, however, this means skipping class to attend temple.
“It plays an important role that the students want to go to temple more than they want to go to class,” said Randy Kane, president of Drake Hillel.
Kane also thinks it’s important that students let professors know they won’t be in class that day or they’ll need to take a test on a different date.
Especially at a smaller school like Drake, he’s glad that religious communities are making themselves known.
Kane said while he’s glad the High Holiday falls on a Friday and Saturday this year, so not many required activities will have to be missed, the four to five hours spent in temple take a lot out of the day.
Fortunately, Drake provides student transportation to the synagogues, so even though students can’t celebrate with their families, there are services available to help them feel at home.
While classes will not coincide with the holiday, the last day of sorority and fraternity recruitment does.
Junior Hannah Kuhne, a Jewish student and recruitment counselor, is caught between balancing the two.
Kuhne is looking forward to completely changing her daily routine.
She usually doesn’t go to class or do homework on Yom Kippur because she’s occupied with reflections of the past year and thoughts towards the new one.
Back at home, she’ll spend most of the day in temple or napping to conserve energy.
Some people are confused about the purpose of fasting.
There are supposed to be no distractions from your faith, and eating or even drinking are considered unnecessary.
“Having recruitment on Yom Kippur will be distracting because I’m not supposed to be thinking about anything but the holiday,” Kuhne said. But it will also be very physically demanding because I’ll be out in the heat of Greek Street and hungry.”
“The point of fasting is not to get sick, but I’m worried that during recruitment I will be,” Kuhne said.
Lilianna Bernstein, the staff advisor to Hillel, notes how inconvenient Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah can be.
They always fall during the beginning of the school year, a time when students can’t afford to miss crucial lectures, notes and quizzes.
She also realizes how important it is to celebrate the High Holy Days and works to allow students to participate in the holiday to the degree they choose.
“It isn’t easy being ‘different’ and needing to cut away from classes and activities, so the more support we can get from the campus community to be understanding of our obligation, the better,” Bernstein said.
The one thing that irks the Jewish community the most is people who don’t understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.
“Don’t say things like, ‘I support you through Yom Kippur.’ That’s like saying you support them through Christmas,” Kuhne said.
Kane also agreed.
He says the traditional warm wishing phrase is, “Have an easy fast,” but notes that if you have any questions about Yom Kippur any Jew will explain.