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Tips To Help You Observe the Jewish Holidays While at FSU

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

The start of any new school year is stressful enough with getting acclimated to a new living situation, getting to know your classes, and figuring out your schedule and workload for the semester. This is even more difficult for those who come from a culture or background that is a minority on campus.

Fall is not just a time for pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters; it’s also the beginning of the High Holy Days for Jewish students. Coming to terms with the fact that you’ll be spending the holidays away from your family and the traditions you’ve grown up with your whole life can be very overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important to figure out how you’re going to celebrate and embrace your cultural and religious practices while on campus. Here are some suggestions that changed my perspective on observing the Jewish holidays away from home and helped me appreciate them more.

Talk to your professors

Before any celebrations can begin, you must contact your professors and let them know what your plans are. Figure out if you’re going to be absent from classes so that you can get notes or class materials from your lecturers and have an excused absence. I recommend checking each of your courses’ syllabi to see if any exams/quizzes or in-class assignments are planned for the same day as a Jewish holiday. Let your teachers know at least two weeks ahead of time so that you can work with them to make arrangements.

Find a community

It may seem like you’re alone, especially when you’re away from your family, but it’s important to know that there are so many campus resources available to you where you can connect with other Jewish students. You can find comfort in knowing that there are Jewish students around you who are going through the same feelings and experiences.

Jewish student union (JSU) at fsu

The JSU is a great place to come and meet other Jewish students and allies at FSU. They host events and talks surrounding Judaism and Jewish culture and often partner with Hillel for holiday services.

Hillel at fsu

Hillel is always hosting events for the Jewish holidays and just for Jewish students to mingle and get to know each other. Events include breaking fast, Shabbat and holiday services, volunteering, and coffee and ice cream meetups. This is a great place to come and connect with the Jewish community at FSU.

find a synagogue

There are so many different ways that Jewish students choose to observe their faith, but many may feel inclined to go to services and events at a synagogue. If you grew up attending shul, this can be a great way to stay connected to some of your traditions from home and stay involved with your Judaism. This is also a great place to meet other observant Jewish students and community members at FSU. If you haven’t attended synagogue all that much, there’s no judgment, and participating in services can be super rewarding. Around FSU, there are a few options, but the most important thing is choosing a place where you feel comfortable. Feel free to attend services and events at multiple synagogues until you find a place you’re happy with.

my choice: Chabad of Tallahassee

Two other synagogues in Tallahassee that are worth checking out are Temple Israel (reform synagogue) and Congregation on Shomrei Torad (conservative synagogue).

embrace new and old traditions

College is not just about making new friends and memories; it’s also a time to find your community and who you are as an individual, including discovering what kind of Jew you want to be. As you settle in, it’s important to know that you are not at home anymore, so how you celebrate the Jewish holidays and maintain your Jewish culture is now entirely up to you. It can be extremely beneficial to find new traditions that bring you joy and comfort on the holidays and carry over some traditions from home that you find meaningful.

These traditions don’t have to only include other Jewish people. Invite your roommates and friends to participate and let them get involved in your culture; the people who care about you will also care about the things you love. This could mean making a big dinner for the start of Rosh Hashanah or having a potluck for breaking fast on Yom Kippur. You should do anything that makes you happy and feel connected to your religion.

Your traditions don’t have to include others and don’t need to be big things, either. I love to journal and pray alone in my room on Yom Kippur in between synagogue services. This is a tradition I carry over from home and is one that brings me a lot of peace when I’m away at school.

stay connected

Even though you’re away from home, the wonder of modern technology is that you still have access to all your loved ones, even if they are hundreds of miles away. The Jewish holidays are all about spending time with friends and family, so make sure to call and text everyone back home so that you can feel included in the festivities. I like to FaceTime my parents and have them pass the phone around the dinner table so that I can see and talk with everyone and hear the toasts and prayers.

Remember that holy days are about you and your relationship with HaShem, whatever it may be. If you choose to celebrate, take the time to think, reflect, and observe the holidays in the ways that seem right for you.

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Simona Giverts is a staff writer for the Florida State University (FSU) Her Campus Team. As a staff writer, she writes articles every other week covering topics across campus, culture, and personal. Simona is currently majoring in Psychology with a minor in Criminology. She loves incorporating her educational background to better digest and dissect current pop culture news. When she isn't writing, you can find her watching old TV shows and movies, reading fantasy novels, or baking something sweet.