As Jews we celebrate the New Year in the middle of our year. In the middle of busy lives and years, Jews are supposed to stop, rejuvenate, and celebrate the unknown new that the next year will bring. However, when Jews wake up after Rosh Hashanah this year it will still be September. What will be new? The month will not change, the year will not change, gym memberships will not be rising, how can one make the days after Rosh Hashanah and this new year feel, new?
Jewish college students may find this task easy this year. Rosh Hashanah falls within the first few weeks of the school year; a time that is transitional for all students in college, not just freshmen. The transitions from summer to fall, relaxation to studying, home to school, and family to friends can be overwhelming as these transitions hit students within the first hours of being back on campus. They can leave college students feeling lost. It is almost as if Rosh Hashanah comes to the rescue.
Rosh Hashanah provides students and all Jews the chance to reevaluate intentions, goals, and dreams; when they may not be seeking to reevaluate. Not many people examine themselves in September, they save that for Decemeber 31st. However, Rosh Hashanah is a special chance to take a few days, a mid-year pause, and set new goals for the school year. The days of Rosh Hashanah and the High Holidays in general, provide Jewish people with the opportunity to grow, change, and appreciate the good and the bad that happened in the past year. Evaluation is not only about the good that happened; it is about the past mistakes as well. Learning from these mistakes and starting the Jewish New Year with the intention to not make them again is the purpose of these High Holidays.
For the students on campus, Rosh Hashanah is a nice reminder to search for Jewish life on campus. Beginning the school year with a connection to culture, religion, and other Jewish students can only set one up for success.