A ‘sweet new year’: Chabad at CSU hosts Rosh Hashanah dinner

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Collegian | Trin Bonner

DJ Vicente, Staff Reporter

On Sept. 25, in a sunset-lit room within the Fort Collins Senior Center, Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik gave a speech to his congregation to commence Sunday evening’s service preceding this year’s Rosh Hashanah dinner.

“It’s a lot more than a new year’s celebration,” Gorelik said. “Every year, the world gets recreated. … It’s a day where you get literally recreated.”

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Gorelik, who serves as faculty advisor for the Colorado State University Chabad Jewish Student Organization, explained the importance of Rosh Hashanah to Jewish people, describing the holiday as more than a celebration of the Jewish new year.

“It’s about a new beginning in the sense that, you know, we are thoughtful and reflect and meditate on our past year and find the areas that we can improve in and make real resolutions, … resolving to make a better version of ourselves,” Gorelik said.

The Chabad of Northern Colorado website describes the religious significance of Rosh Hashanah as “the birthday of the universe, the day G-d created Adam and Eve, and it’s celebrated as the head of the Jewish year.”

“Just like the head allocates everything to the rest of the body, so too does Rosh Hashanah,” Gorelik said.

The website also explains the timeline of Rosh Hashanah. It’s split between the first two days of the Jewish new year, Tishrei 1 and Tishrei 2, with this year’s Rosh Hashanah beginning at sundown Sept. 25, the eve of Tishrei 1, and continuing through nightfall Sept. 27.

The evening transitioned into the dinner of Rosh Hashanah, beginning with reciting kiddush over cups of wine (though this event used grape juice in place of wine, as children were present) and the dipping of apples and challah loaves into honey.

Sarah Daniel, member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi sorority, a sorority specializing in Jewish interest, explained the apples, challah loaves and honey as symbols for a “sweet new year.”

“We’ve all been very tested (and) gone through hard times, but you know, once again, that irrepressible strength of the human spirit is what we celebrate too. With joy and effort and love, we will always prevail.” -Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik

Chaia Geltser, president of Chabad at CSU, mentioned Chabad of Northern Colorado’s connection to both the Jewish community within CSU and the Jewish communities outside of campus as well, connecting with members primarily from the Fort Collins area.

“In Fort Collins, the rabbi has done a really good job of involving the Jewish community outside of CSU,” Geltser said. “And so we kind of come together a lot and celebrate a lot, and it’s quite an interesting and diverse mix of people, but it makes for a really fun and interesting time, and you make connections with people you might otherwise not have met.”

Geltser also mentioned Chabad of Northern Colorado’s and Gorelik’s work in “creating a strong, educational aspect of Chabad,” serving to educate both Jewish and non-Jewish students in religious and cultural traditions such as Rosh Hashanah.

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“The majority of people there are Jewish, but it’s really fun to have non-Jewish members there who are just genuinely interested in learning about it and seeing what goes on because that’s just how we come together as a people,” Geltser said.

Members of Chabad explained the importance of this year’s Rosh Hashanah due to the previous two years of COVID-19 restrictions placing barriers on large gatherings, adversely affecting important Jewish observances.

“I think it’s important because, you know, we’re all able to come together again and celebrate together in the Jewish new year and new beginnings, and we’re all able to celebrate that together after COVID-19,” said Macy Palbaum, officer for Chabad at CSU.

Gorelik mentioned how appropriate this year’s Rosh Hashanah is coming out of the pandemic.

“We’ve all been very tested (and) gone through hard times, but you know, once again, that irrepressible strength of the human spirit is what we celebrate too,” Gorelik said. “With joy and effort and love, we will always prevail.”

Reach DJ Vicente at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @DeejMako.