UPDATED 9/2 at 2:13 a.m.
Hundreds of Brandeis students, faculty and staff gathered in a large tent on the Great Lawn for “Break the Fast” at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 19. Initially created by former Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel in 2010, “Break the Fast” strives to celebrate Jewish life on campus while building community.
Open to the public, “Break the Fast” featured an array of bagels, lox, hummus and tabouleh. This celebration follows Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, one of the most important holidays in Jewish tradition, during which many people of the Jewish faith choose to fast in order to more adequately reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one.
Richard Weiner ’21, leader of Cultural Jewish Services and co-coordinator of Shalem, the Jewish LGBTQ group, expressed how “Break the Fast” helped him feel more connected to the Brandeis community. “After a long day of fasting and working on myself, the break fast was a great opportunity to come together and remember why I’m worth working on: I’m part of something bigger than myself,” Weiner said.
Yom Kippur marks the end of the Days of Awe, the ten days following Rosh Hashanah that call for introspection, prayer and repentance. During this time, many Jews spend 25 hours abstaining from eating or drinking, wearing leather shoes, anointing one’s body, washing or bathing and engaging in sexual activity to cleanse their bodies and spirits, though exceptions are made to accomodate for health reasons. Throughout the holiday, there were multiple services that served as opportunities for prayer and reflection.
According to the Brandeis website, this annual event reflects the institution’s history as a “pluralistic, non-sectarian university founded by the Jewish community,” as all community members are welcome, regardless of background or religious affiliation.
Genevieve Brown ’20, who identifies as Christian, attended her third “Break the Fast” this year. Though she found the event “high-key overwhelming” due to the large number of attendees, she “felt close to the Brandeis community” as she was in a small space with all her close friends and acquaintances. She thought “the food and tea were good, and the fall decorations created a nice ambiance.”
While Brown wishes there was more organization with the event, as “one line went all the way out of the tent and didn’t move,” whereas “another [line] went by in like two minutes,” she was happy to have attended the event.
Spoken like a true college student, Brown jokingly said, “I always take advantage of free food.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of the article misspelt Richard Weiner’s name.