As one of the few Jewish students at Rhodes University and one of the even fewer observant Jews, I often get asked many questions regarding my religious identity and choice of faith. No matter how ludicrous the question is, you can bet I have heard it. Through it all, however, I am certain that my relationship with Judaism is a defining part of who I am. Despite recent trends of many Jews increasingly distancing themselves from their identity, I stand proud with my faith and religion.
Grahamstown’s newest restaurant, Rustic Route, opened its doors to the public on Wednesday 23 August, and to date has gained positive feedback from offering customers a pleasant outdoor dining experience unique to Grahamstown.
So Yom Kippur has come and gone. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t the easiest of days. The fast itself wasn’t too bad, although can a 25-hour fast ever be ‘good’ by any standards? The process of reflection and of taking stock of what is going on in my life has been difficult, and the experience of opening oneself up emotionally to the meaning of the day can be draining and hard in general. This being said, this was one of the most meaningful Yom Kippur’s I have experienced to date.
This piece is an article that I wrote for Grocott’s Mail, a community newspaper published weekly in Grahamstown and surrounding areas. It looks at the details and struggles surrounding vacation accommodation for Rhodes University students living in res. The topic of vacation accommodation is of particular concern to many Rhodes University and has been widely debated in recent weeks and months. While this piece does not necessarily speak specifically to the topic of my blog, my Jewish upbringing has instilled in me the need to be concerned with the worries of others. This was a major motivating factor in my writing of this article, and in my sharing of it on my blog.
In March of 2016 (my second year of university), I managed to secure a job working as a waitress at a pub near my university. The institution, named The Rat and Parrot, is a popular watering hole among students and local youth, and is one of the most established eateries in town.
Yom Kippur, one of the most important days in the Jewish calendar, falls this year on Saturday 30 September. I mentioned in a previous post that on Rosh Hashanah, which takes place just over a week before Yom Kippur, God begins taking account of all our actions in the previous year in order to judge us for the upcoming year. On Yom Kippur, this judgement is completed and sealed. Thus, Yom Kippur – which means ‘Day of Atonement’ – is the day on which we atone for all our negative deeds and appeal to God to look favourably upon us before our fate for the upcoming year is sealed.
This week, we come face to face with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is an auspicious time in the Jewish calendar, and is filled with many interesting practices and rituals. Most importantly, it is the time of year when we as Jews take account of where we are in our lives, and I personally have come to love this time of year for the opportunity it forces upon me to reevaluate where I am as a Grahamstonian Jew.
This past week I celebrated my birthday. It was a lovely day and I was both surprised and overjoyed with all the attention, presents and food (chocolate! cake!) that I received. For me, however, my birthday represents so much more than presents and food: it is a day for me to remember who I am and where I belong.
‘Life is short’. So the age-old saying goes, and we are all are forced to acknowledge this truth at some point in their lives. Death is one of the few certainties in this world, and many people find themselves facing regrets over forgone or missed opportunities as they go through their life with the certainty of death hanging over them. For Dr Denzil Levy of Port Elizabeth, who turns 100 years old this week, however, his life has thankfully been a long and successful one filled with very few regrets.
Tomorrow night Jews around the world begin celebrating the festival of Shavuot. Shavuot is a two day long festival in the diaspora (one day in Israel), and will end at sundown on Thursday evening. The festival commemorates the day that the Jews received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sanai around 3 300 years ago, and the day the Jewish people officially became a nation.