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Reflection, singing and prayer: celebrating Yom Kippur

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Kol Nidre services were held at the Hillel building north of campus last night. The celebration of Yom Kippur began last night and ends tonight after sundown.

While Hanukkah has gained more fame in the United States, Yom Kippur, or the “Day of Atonement,” is the most important holiday in the Jewish faith. For a large number of students and others in the University District, services at the Hillel Foundation for Jewish Life at the Unversity of Washington, located several blocks from campus at 47475 17th Ave N.E., is the place to celebrate this important day.

Yom Kippur follows Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the Jewish year, and is designated as a time to reflect on the past year and ask forgiveness for any wrongs one has caused.

In accordance with tradition, many observing the holiday will refrain from work or school and attend services at local synagogues.

Hillel UW welcomes all students to celebrate Yom Kippur.

“Students, young adults, their families and community members are invited to attend High Holiday Services at Hillel UW,” according to the Hillel UW Web site.

Some traditional customs of the holiday include refraining from all work and committing to a 25-hour fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall the following day.

“Yom Kippur for me is a time of reflection, to look at the past year, see how far I have come and where I hope to go,” senior Rachel Hollcraft said. “Reflecting on the past year is a way I can improve myself for the next.”

The evening services of Yom Kippur are called Kol Nidre, a term that refers to both the service itself and a prayer that is recited in the synagogue at the beginning of services. This year, Kol Nidre services at Hillel UW took place last night from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bridge Family Auditorium.

“This year’s service was the largest we’ve ever had in the history of Hillel at UW,” Hillel UW organizer Robert Beiser said. “Around 500 people attended.”

According to the Hillel UW Web site, both services will include opportunities for “prayer, singing, study and reflection.”

Holding services near a college campus can have unique advantages and opportunities.

“The nature of working with a lot of young people and students means that we can be more innovative and creative in how we carry out Yom Kippur,” Beiser said. “Oftentimes this can lead to a deeper and more meaningful holiday.”

One example of innovation in services at Hillel UW is a new project inspired by the popular books and Web site “PostSecret,” to which people send anonymous secrets to liberate themselves and comfort others.

At Hillel UW, people sent personal reflections for a project called “PostRegret,” which were hung anonymously around the walls of the temple. Many spoke of how they had treated friends or family, while some addressed ways in which people hurt themselves, for instance, by lacking discipline or holding in emotions.

Additional Yom Kippur services will be held today from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. at Hillel UW. Traditional egalitarian services in Hebrew will be held in the Bridge Family Auditorium, and liberal services with music will be held in the Michele and Stan Rosen Dining Room.

Advance tickets are required, but student tickets are always free. They are available on the Hillel UW Web site at www.hilleluw.org. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Reach reporter Annie Atherton at news@dailyuw.com.

Yom Kippur services

Who: Hillel UW

When: Today, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Where: Bridge Family Auditorium and the Michele and Stan Rosen Dining Room

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