SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Following COVID-19’s initial outbreak back in early 2020, Jillian Juni–the Executive Director for Syracuse Hillel–said she was unsure how the organization would be affected at that time, as it was far too early on in the pandemic for the general public to fully grasp on what scale the world would be impacted.
Given the circumstances, Juni opted that it would be best to direct her attention towards the students.
“When COVID first hit,” Juni said, “The immediate thought that we (Syracuse Hillel) had was, ‘How are we going to meet the needs of students?’ Everyone had gone home for spring break, we had Passover coming up shortly after. ‘Was this going to be a two-week thing? Was it going to be a longer thing?’ So, we dove into just reaching out to students.”
According to Jacob Goldberg, a Broadcast & Digital Journalism student at Syracuse University as well as a member of Syracuse Hillel, students were still allowed at times to meet up in small groups at the Gary & Karen Winnick Hillel Center for Jewish Life. However, the organization stayed to online means.
“When I had COVID, they (Hillel) came and sent me boxes to make me feel welcome,” Jacob said. “They’ve constantly been doing social distance activities to make sure that people are still able to come into the building. Stiffer that connection, still make relationships, and of course today it was really great to be back (in-person) for the high holiday services.”
On September 26, Syracuse Hillel members gathered at the Winnick Hillel Center where they’d begin a group walk to Tashlich in Thornden Park, the site for the Tashlich Evening Service. Following the service, the members then returned the Hillel Center to enjoy the ceremonial dinner.
Although this was the only day Syracuse Hillel would hold the groupwide walk to Thornden Park, additional services and ceremonial meals were also offered on September 25 and 26, as Rosh Hashanah spans over that duration in the Hebrew Calendar.