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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Brown chapter.

This past Friday, September 15th marked the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is shortly followed by Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, which starts at Sundown on the 24th, and ends a bit after sundown on the following day.

While walking around campus, you might have seen people wearing nice clothes, and a majority of them wearing white. Though some might interpret this as a fashion faux pas, breaking the ever confusing advice of not wearing white after labor day, wearing white during the High Holidays is an important symbol for Jewish people. We wear white on the most holy days of the year, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as a symbol of purity. We want to start off the New Year with a clean slate and to atone for any of the mistakes of our past. It is not necessary to wear white, but many Jewish people choose to show their participation in the high holidays through this symbolic gesture.

Some also suggest that wearing leather should be avoided during Yom Kippur, as it is a day of humility. In historic times, the act of wearing leather was seen as lavish, showing one’s wealth. Today, while leather can be thrifted for much less than its original value, some continue with the tradition of not wearing leather to show their consideration for the holiday.

Regardless of participation in clothing symbols, you will most likely see people dressed formally in attendance of Services, or even afterwards while going out for dinner or lunch. Through formal clothing, Jewish people can pay their respects to their religion and the significance of both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Therefore, there are many other symbolic gestures that Jewish people participate in during these Holy Days that are unrelated to clothing. These include fasting for 25 hours and throwing pieces of bread into a body of water to atone for our sins.

Customs and traditions are different between the many branches of Judaism, so while some might follow this fashion guidance, others might choose not to -and both are okay.

Wishing “Shana Tova” and “Yom Tov” to all those celebrating this year!

Julia is a writer for and member of Her Campus at Brown. She is a Psychology concentrator at Brown University in the class of 2026. On Brown's campus, she is involved in research at the Causality and Mind Lab as an undergraduate research assistant. In addition, she is learning American Sign Language and participates in many Sign Language Society events. Julia is involved with the Brown Daily Herald's podcast in addition to Hillel. In her free time, she enjoys acting, singing, and dancing. Julia loves painting her nails, spending time on the main green with friends, going on morning runs and night walks, and shopping at Trader Joes.