Homesick for apples and honey

Having class on Rosh Hashanah is a headache


I often use holidays, like Rosh Hashanah, to teach my 8-year-old brother about the faith. Like when I first explained to him why we eat apples and honey – which symbolizes hope for a sweet new year. I remember making him the dish, describing why we put the two ingredients together and then bonding over the nosh. Since that year, we’ve been responsible for making the snack so the family can enjoy it.

But not this year.

I can’t help but be a little saddened that I will be in Buffalo for the holiday this year. Without the day off, I can’t travel home to Long Island to celebrate the Jewish New Year with my family.

Religious or not, I cannot help but feel an overwhelming sense of homesickness during this time.

UB has places of worship that will welcome me. I have a variety of services I can choose to go to – whether it’s at the Chabad House or through UB’s Hillel – and I have the opportunity to be surrounded by friends of the same faith and immerse myself in my culture.

I typically attend Friday night services at the Chabad; they give me a sense of community and never interfere with my classes. Holidays are the only time during the year that I find myself conflicted between what I was raised to do and what the school mandates I do.

While it’s nice to have options at school, it is different to be here than home at services with my family, where we can hear the shofar and listen to the rabbi speak.

Personally, I plan to attend a Wednesday night service for Erev Rosh Hashanah at the Chabad House and because we do not have the day off Thursday, I may not be able to go back for day services.

I have two classes that conflict with the holiday. One of my professors canceled her lecture on Thursday, but the other did not. My second course, on Thursday night, rides a fine line – technically, the class takes place after sunset, so after the holiday is over. Though the lecture does not directly impact the holiday itself, it prevents me from going back to Long Island Wednesday afternoon, after my last class, celebrating with my family and then coming back to Buffalo Friday morning.

Jewish students with a full class schedule on Thursday are put in a situation in which they have to choose between academics and celebrating the holiday.

I still have responsibilities to take care of. And once the holiday ends, I still have to go to class on Friday.

This year, I cannot share apples and honey with my 8-year-old brother, because I cannot afford to go home. I cannot set the table with my mom or go through pictures of the past year with my dad. I cannot celebrate the holiday in the manner I traditionally would, because I do not have the day off.

I suppose FaceTime will have to suffice.