Zachs Hillel House hosting busy season of events for Jewish holidays

Welcome Back Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot will all be observed this month with services, meals, and programs

Hartford, Connecticut, September 11, 2015 – The start of the new academic year is a busy time at Zachs Hillel House, the center of the Jewish community at Trinity College. In addition to a Welcome Back Shabbat tonight – Friday, September 11, at 6 p.m. – the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot will all be observed over the next three weeks, giving Hillel Director Lisa Pleskow Kassow much to prepare for.

The First-Year Shabbat on September 4 attracted about 80 students, both Jewish and non-Jewish. “All programs are open to any student,” Kassow said. “This is an open place for learning and experiencing Jewish life with our students.”

Welcome Back Shabbat

Welcome Back Shabbat is a gathering of all class years that features a Jewish religious service and community dinner. “Students Zach Bitan and Seth Browner will be leading tonight’s services, which start at 6 p.m.,” Kassow said. “Dinner follows at 7, served by Hillel’s student leadership.” The meal is prepared in Zachs Hillel House’s own kosher kitchen.

The conversation is always different at a Shabbat dinner, Kassow said. “It’s a convivial atmosphere. People have a really great time. The tables are set with linen; it’s not meant to be formal. Rather, Shabbat dinner is meant to emphasize a different kind of time, a special, even sacred time to share a lovely meal and be with friends in a welcoming and positive atmosphere.”

   Trinity College students prepare apples and honey for the New    Year festivities in the Rivkin Kitchen at the Zachs Hillel House.
Rosh Hashanah

To follow the tradition of dipping apples in honey for a sweet new year, Hillel Program Manager Amy Zylberman will take students apple-picking at a nearby orchard on Sunday, September 13. Contact Amy Zylberman to sign up for a spot on the bus.

A dinner to celebrate Rosh Hashanah will be held on Sunday, September 13, at 6 p.m., followed by services led by Rabbi Rena Blumenthal.

First Day services will be held on Monday, September 14, from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by a festival lunch. “There will also be a brief   participatory service called Tashlich, in which you throw pieces of bread into running water, symbolizing casting away the old and beginning the new year,” Kassow said.

During that morning’s service, Trinity College Professor of Religion Ronald Kiener will be chanting the Torah portions. “He’s a highly skilled Torah reader,” Kassow said. “It’s a special experience to hear him.”

Yom Kippur

Before the Day of Atonement, a pre-fast meal will be held on Tuesday, September 22, at 5 p.m., followed by an opening service called Kol Nidre.

“The following day, the fast day, services will be held at 10 a.m., with a Torah reading by Professor Kiener,” Kassow said. Services will also be held that evening at 6:45 p.m., before breaking the fast at 7:30 p.m.


Sukkot starts the evening of Sunday, September 27, the week after Yom Kippur. “It’s a week-long harvest holiday,” Kassow said. “We’ll have fun events in the Hillel ‘sukkah’ – the harvest tent.”

    Trinity College students prepare challah for a Shabbat last year.

Last year’s special “Sushi in the Sukkah” event was hosted in partnership with Trinity's Asian American Student Association.

“The themes of the holidays are reflection and renewal,” Kassow said. “Students will have many opportunities for meaningful experiences and encounters during the holiday season.”

 For more information on the Zachs Hillel House, located at 74 Vernon Street, click here, e-mail Lisa Pleskow Kassow or call 860-297-4195.

Written by Andrew J. Concatelli