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Jewish High Holy Days

High Holy Days

September 20, 2022

For those of Jewish faith, late September through mid-October represents the first month of the Jewish year, known as Tishrei. The month encompasses the two most significant holidays of the Jewish Faith, the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. During this time, please remember that our students, faculty, and staff may observe this time filled with special blessings, food, and prayer and may request time away.

Rosh Hashanah, the first of the High Holy Days, is the Jewish New Year and is a two-day celebration beginning at sunset on Sunday, September 25. Rosh Hashanah is observed with religious services and celebratory meals, which include apples dipped in honey to symbolize the hope for a sweet year to come. Following Rosh Hashanah, begin the Days of Awe, also known as the Ten Days of Repentance, which represent a time of introspection and repentance. This period culminates at sundown on October 4 and ushers in the second of the High Holy Days, Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur is a day-long fast with introspective prayer, often spending a full day in a synagogue to devote themselves with full mind and heart to God. Afterwards, it is a time for festivities and celebration with after-fast meals and rejoicing.

Sukkot, a week-long celebration of the fall season and the yearly harvest, will begin the evening of October 9 and ends the evening of October 16. This is a time to give thanks and is often spent in prayer and celebration with families. One of Judaism’s three central pilgrimage festivals, this holiday commemorates the Jews’ escape from Egypt. During this time, families build a sukkah, hut or shelter, with a roof made of palm leaves or bamboo sticks. It is traditional for meals to be eaten in the sukkah during the celebration.

Tishrei wraps up with the holidays of Shemini Atzeret on October 17 and Simchat Torah on October 18. The prayer for rain is recited on Shemini Atzeret as it is the beginning of the rainy season for Israel. Simchat Torah represents the end of the annual reading of the Torah and begins a new year of reading of the Torah with Genesis 1. This day is celebrated with singing, dancing, and children waving flags.

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For additional education and personal development related to diversity, equity and inclusion, the following resources are available: DEI Education and Resources, DEI and Antiracism Resources from the UNC Libraries, the Education Equity Toolkit from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and the UNITE workshops for faculty, staff, and students.