Andover Jews Observe High Holidays Away From Home

Phillips Academy’s Jewish community observed Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, this past weekend and looks to celebrate Yom Kippur on Monday with a day off from school. Because the Academy did not offer Rosh Hashanah services on campus, Jewish boarders who remained on campus had the option of using Jewish Student Union-organized transportation to attend services at one of the temples in Andover. Though schoolwork and extracurricular activities carried on through this week, the Jewish community observed the 10 days in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, known as the Ten Days of Repentance. Jewish Chaplain Rabbi Kominsky explained the holiday “[is] a period during which one takes stock of one’s life and actions during the past year, attempts to make amends and obtain forgiveness from anyone wronged, and resolves to attempt to do better during the coming year.” As part of the celebration for Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish faith, observers will begin fasting at sundown on Sunday and continue until sundown the following day. While classes and athletics will not be in session on Yom Kippur, some students in previous years have had trouble catching up on schoolwork due to fatigue and weakness after the 24- hour fast. However, JSU co-head Ilana Segall ’04 said, “Almost every teacher in my experience has been completely understanding about the limitations that fasting puts on this ‘day off,’ and has adjusted the due date of an assignment for me or the whole class accordingly.” Segall spoke on the stereotypical treatment of Jews at boarding schools, “Prep schools have come a long way since the days of the movie ‘School Ties,’ where a Jewish boy is forced to hide his religious identity and has to play football on Rosh Hashanah to maintain a scholarship. Phillips is nowhere near this extreme of intolerance towards Jews…” Transportation will be available for students to attend Yom Kippur services on Monday, and they will also have the opportunity to stay with a day student family. For the past several years, about four to five local families have offered to act as hosts, some even continuing to do so after their children have graduated from Andover.