Jewish students embrace holiday traditions

As Christmas approaches, students do not often think of their classmates, roommates and friends of different religious backgrounds who do not celebrate the Christian holiday.

Jewish Student Union President Amalia Williams said being Jewish and attending a Catholic university so passionate about its culture and the spirit of the holidays does not bother her.

“I strongly believe that everyone should feel comfortable and embrace each other’s cultures in order to further the growth of the school’s ethnicity and culture,” Williams said.

Williams said she attended the tree lighting ceremony on campus during her freshman and sophomore years, but she did not participate in other Christmas events because she does not relate to those ceremonies or traditions.

The Jewish faith is recognized on campus during the holidays. The Jewish-Christian Studies program traditionally hosts a Holiday Colloquium, which will be held this year on Dec. 11 at 4 p.m.

Professor of Jewish-Christian Studies Dr. David Bossman said this year’s Holiday Colloquium will celebrate cooperation among Jews, Christians and Muslims, continuing the mission of the Sister Rose Thering Fund to foster understanding and respect of people of all different religious backgrounds.

“Our goal is to build not only mutual understanding and appreciation, but also cooperative working relations within society at large,” Bossman said.

An associate professor of Jewish-Christian Studies and director of the Institute of Judeo-Christian Studies, the Rev. Lawrence Frizzell said the Holiday Colloquium, although addressing religion, is not religious in nature, but rather academic. The Colloquium commemorates both the feast of Hanukkah and Christmas.

“They light the Hanukkah candles if it’s during the eight days of Hanukkah and have some poetry about Christmas and Hanukkah and a lecture which would be appropriate to Jewish (and) Christian themes,” Frizzell said.

Although she has not experienced the holidays at SHU, graduate student Jordyn Barry said she would participate in campus festivities regardless of her own religious practices.

“If the Christmas celebration is part of the campus society you’ll definitely feel included and take part in it,” Barry said.

Williams supports incorporating some Jewish traditions into the holiday season at Seton Hall.

“I think it would be a great way for students to see another culture along with celebrating their own,” she said.

Michelle Foti can be reached at

Author: Michelle Foti

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