Students concerned by religious conflicts with campus events Yo-Yo Ma concert time adjusted for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur


Apples and honey for a sweet new year is one of the ways Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year is celebrated. People across the DePauw community who practice Judaism are setting their Shabbat tables in preparation for the holiday and the ten high holy days that follow, ending in Yom Kippur.

    Rosh Hashanah starts the celebration of the high holy days which is meant to be a time to look back on the year and Yom Kippur concludes the celebration as the day of repentment. Both holidays ask followers to refrain from work, and Yom Kippur asks for followers to fast and spend the day in prayer.

    The center for spiritual life and Jewish student organization, Hillel, will be holding events on the days of Rosh Hashanah, Sept. 20-21, and Yom Kippur, Sept. 29-30.

    “We try to celebrate with students, faculty, staff and friends,” said classics professor Rebecca Schindler. Schindler and her family will invite friends, family and some students for ceremonial meals over this holiday season. They also participate in Tashlich, or to cast away, where breadcrumbs thrown into a body of water as a symbolic tradition of throwing away troubles from the past year and moving forward. Schindler said her family will do this on Thursday at Big Walnut Creek.

    Schindler will not teach on Thursday because of the holiday.

    Spiritual life is currently in a process of turnover, with the former director and rabbi having left over the summer. The position is to remain vacant until the spring in an attempt to get the best candidates possible to fill the position.

    For the close to 30 Jewish students on campus, these holidays can cause problems as they fall on some of the busiest days in the semester. DePauw has historically scheduled important events, such as Old Gold or career fairs, over religious holidays, making some students unable to participate.

    Yo-Yo Ma’s concert on Sept. 30 was originally scheduled for early in the evening instead of the current time of 8 p.m. It was moved because Jewish students showed concern about not being able to attend because Yom Kippur lasts from sundown to sundown.

    Junior Zoë Yeshayahu, president of Hillel and School of Music Student, said she was very excited about the change to accommodate Jewish students, faculty and staff. “I was really afraid that I wasn't going to be able to come to the concert,” Yeshayahu said. “ It was a step forward I think for DePauw in inclusion.”

    Andy Cohen, current head of Jewish life, said it is hard to be Jewish on DePauw’s campus, and one of those reasons is the small number of Jewish students present. “DePauw is very very diverse in many ways; religion is not one of them,” Cohen said.

    Cohen said he appreciates that the interim Dean of the School of Music, Mellasenah Morris, and President Mark McCoy changed the time to accommodate Jewish students. Cohen hopes this will help start more discussion around religious diversity and the need for religious diversity on campus.

    “It’s always going to be a struggle,” said Kate Smanik, assistant dean of students for spirituality, service and social justice. Smanik sends faculty and administrators a detailed list every year of religious holidays in different faiths and how they affect their followers in the hopes it will influence when events are scheduled.

    “Jewish holidays are an opportunity to welcome our neighbors; welcome our friends,” Schindler said. “It makes me sad that Jewish students don’t have a way to invite their friends to celebrate the Jewish holidays.”

    Services will be held in the Hartman House for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. All services in the Hartman House are open to the public.