It took five tries, but Warren Berman, a 52-year-old video producer for Channel 10, finally blew the shofar, a ram’s horn that awakens those who hear its sound from spiritual slumber.
Everyone in the room, about 40 people in all, cheered loudly to the shofar sound.
“We traditionally blow the shofar a little bit later on Rosh Hashanah, but because tonight is Shabbat, you cannot blow the shofar on Shabbat,” said Hedy Berman, the director of Hillel at CSU. “But, we cannot just start the High Holidays without the shofar, so we kind of sneaked it in a bit earlier.”
They couldn’t blow the shofar on Shabbat because they cannot do any work, including playing instruments, so they blew it before sundown so that people could still hear it on the holiday, said Rachel Singer, a sophomore majoring in psychology.
“We blow the shofar to awaken repentance,” Singer said.
Soon afterwards, everyone was led inside the Cherokee Park Room, where they all chose seats at round dinner tables. Singer marked the beginning of the Sabbath by lighting two candles held in simple, silver candlestick holders. While waiting for the servers to bring the meal, students at each table were encouraged to introduce themselves. They did this either by sharing a favorite memory of the High Holidays, or by sharing why they decided to come, if they were new to Jewish traditions.
“I don’t care what anybody says, my mom is the best cook there is and she learned it from my grandmother,” Barbara Langer, a senior majoring in Equine Science at CSU told everyone at her table. “I have nothing but good memories of the High Holidays.”
The Rosh Hashanah dinner was a four-course meal, starting with matzo ball soup and salad, followed by a main dish of chicken with an apricot sauce or a vegetarian entr/e.
The food served at Rosh Hashanah carried a symbolic meaning. Carrots in the matzo ball soup symbolized plenty. The challah bread located in the middle of each table was made with raisins, symbolizing a sweet new year.
“The salad is also symbolic,” said Berman. “Meaning ‘lettuce’ have a great new year.”
After the meal everyone came together for the Rosh Hashanah service. Rabbi Larry Denmark called on different people to come up front and read passages out of a Machzor, a prayer book for the High Holiday, for the first night of Rosh Hashanah. Afterwards, Denmark got up to speak.
“Let’s take a minute for reflection,” Denmark told the congregation. “Everyone take a deep breath and just kind of kick back for a second…. it’s a good thing to do on a Friday night. Think back over this week and the start of your school year. Ask yourself, ‘Was God with me this week? Did I forget God this week? Where do I want to be with God tonight?'”
The service was filled with singing, reading, reflection and prayer, ending on a lighter note with everyone going up to the front and taking a slice of apple and dipping it into honey, symbolizing the hope for a sweet New Year.