After he left services Wednesday afternoon, Hillel President Alex Bolotovsky said Rosh Hashanah is a time for reflection and contemplation.
From Monday to Wednesday, Bolotovsky (senior-marketing and English) and other Jewish students celebrated Rosh Hashanah.
Penn State Hillel and the Chabad Jewish Student Center of Penn State held services at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center Monday through Wednesday.
"It's the Jewish New Year but more than that ... it's a time to ask for forgiveness," Bolotovsky said.
Though Rosh Hashanah is a celebration, it is also a serious time to think about how a person is living their life, Bolotovsky said.
"What's interesting about Jewish religion, as opposed to other religions where forgiveness is asked, before God can forgive us for anything, we have to find who we wronged and actually ask them for forgiveness," he said, adding, "God can't give us forgiveness until that person grants it to us."
Some students said busy schedules made attending the services difficult.
"I've had my own private services," Kalie Steen (sophomore-premedicine) said.
Though she attends Rosh Hashanah services every year, Steen found her class schedule made it difficult this year.
Celebrating the holiday gives her a feeling of purity, she said.
"It's an opportunity to start things new again and to think in the next coming 10 days about the sins I've committed and bettering myself and my relationship with God," she said.
Many people on campus don't understand exactly what the holiday means, Bolotovsky said.
"There's a lack of knowledge in the university community that the most observant Jews can't do any kind of work on this holiday or on Yom Kippur," Bolotovsky said.
Though professors are usually understanding and university policy allows students to miss class for religious reasons, missing class is still hard on students, especially as their course loads get heavier, he said.
"Once you tell them, most professors will understand, but it's not like they're going to schedule their entire curriculum around a couple people," he said.
Bolotovsky went to class during Rosh Hashanah because he didn't want to fall behind on his work but said he will not attend during Yom Kippur next week.
Yom Kippur is a one-day Jewish holiday that involves prayer and fasting.
Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, celebrating these holidays allows Bolotovsky to evaluate his life and goals, and makes him feel connected to the larger Jewish community.
"It's very meaningful to me because it really, I feel, is something that connects me to a lot of Jewish people around the world," he said.