Chabad house celebrates Jewish new year

By Marissa Novel

Jewish students and community members are welcome to commemorate the Jewish New Year, and other holidays at Chabad of SIU.

Chabad is “a worldwide movement, caring for the spiritual and material needs of all Jews,” according to the organization’s website. Chabad houses, such as Chabad of SIU, are established to carry out the organization’s mission.

Rabbi Mendel Scheiman, who runs Chabad of SIU said Chabad is a global organization that connects Jewish people.


“It’s about outreach,” he said. “It’s reaching out to Jews who wouldn’t have the opportunity [to celebrate holidays] otherwise, and to educate people. There are Chabad centers all over the world, and we’re one of a few thousand.”

Mendel said the Chabad will celebrate other Jewish holidays soon including Yom Kippur Friday and Saturday, and Sukkot on Oct. 8.

“The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe—Yamim Noraim—or the Days of Repentance,” according to “This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur.”

Mendel Scheiman said for Yom Kippur, the Chabad will host a pre-fast meal and a prayer session at sunset. He said they will fast the following day and later that evening have a meal to break the fast.

Mendel said for Sukkot, they will build a Sukkah— an outdoor hut where they will eat outside all week. He said they will also host a Sukkah party on Oct. 9 before fall break.

Mendel and his wife, Yochi, hosted their second-annual Rosh Hashanah dinner Wednesday at their home on Cherry Street, which is also the location of the Chabad center.

Mendel said the holiday marks the creation of Adam and Eve and their action towards the realization of mankind’s role in God’s world.


Yochi said her and her husband began preparing food for 30 to 40 people two weeks prior to the holiday. She said the dinner, consisting of pomegranate, apples and honey, homemade bread, and chicken soup with matzo balls, provides a “home away from home” for students.

“We’re having a family style dinner together just like what they would have had at home, with all of the traditional, symbolic foods,” she said.

She said pomegranate symbolizes the number of good deeds one will accomplish in the New Year because of its many seeds. The apples and honey represent a sweet year, and the head of a fish signifies successful advancement in the future.

Mendel said the ceremony begins with prayer accompanied by wrapping the men’s arm and hands with Teffilin, which are leather straps attached to black boxes containing parchment inscribed with verses of the Torah. Then, the women light the candles before dinner.

“The meal will start with Kiddush— a blessing over a cup of wine,” he said. “Afterward we eat challah, home made bread.”

Christopher Gibbs, 24 of Carbondale, said he contacted Congregation Beth Jacob, a Jewish congregation between Carbondale and Murphysboro, and they put him in contact with the Scheimans about one year ago.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been in any type of grouping with anybody,” he said. “But I came here and it’s always been really welcoming.”

Mendel said the Chabad hosts dinner every Friday for Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest.

Branda Mitchell contributed to this story.

Marissa Novel can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @marissanovelDE or at 536-3311 ext. 268.