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D-Term Welcomes Sacred Months

Here are some reflections for these sacred months from the Campus Chaplains:

“As we immersed ourselves in the sacred month of Ramadan, we are reminded of its intentional disruption to the rhythm of our daily lives. Our sleep patterns shift, our eating schedules alter, and the times we convene or share meals change dramatically from the onset of the month. This disruption serves a purpose. Ramadan calls upon us to detach, even momentarily, from our routine, prompting deep reflection on our life's priorities. Its significance stems from being the month of the Quran's revelation, a celestial moment when divine guidance pierced the heavens to illuminate humanity's path. In a world often veiled in confusion, this revelation offers unparalleled clarity.

Within its verses, we find reaffirmation of our purpose: to serve God, worshiping none but the Creator, and standing as champions of justice (Al-Nisa 4:135). As we break our fast each day, we are reminded of two crucial principles: to dedicate all our actions solely for the sake of God and to stand in solidarity with those less fortunate, unable to break their fast with the ease many of us enjoy.

As the WPI community advances in its mission to shape lives and harness knowledge to address global challenges, we may find it necessary to disrupt our routines, allowing space to reassess how we pursue this noble mission and discover fulfilment in our purpose along the journey.”

- Imam Dr. Muhammad Xhemali

“With the new moon, we enter the month of Nisan and prepare our homes and our souls for Passover. Our Passover seders are sensory-based communal ritual experiences in which we retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. We gather with our dear ones to commemorate this beloved ancient holiday. As we begin, we feel a palpable connection with Jews all over the world who are simultaneously observing the seder ritual, as well as with eighty generations of our ancestors whose seder customs would still be familiar to us today. This year’s Passover seder, against the backdrop of the Hamas War, will doubtless be more complicated. Our joy will be muted as we reflect on the barbaric terror attacks of October 7th, the hostages still being held for what will be six and a half months, the massive loss of life in Gaza, and the humanitarian crisis there. 

Our Sages, in the Haggadah, our traditional seder text, instruct us to deeply participate in the seder: “In every generation, each person is obligated to see oneself as one who personally went out from Egypt.” How can we not feel the complicated emotions of this difficult moment? Anticipating this complexity, several groups have written Haggadah supplements to help us express, within the seder ritual, the difficulty of this time. Here are two examples available for free download:

Seder Interrupted: A Post-October 7 Haggadah Supplement | Academy for Jewish Religion (

This Broken Matzah: Pesach 2024 - Bayit: Building Jewish (

Others have suggested leaving an empty seat at the table in honour of the hostages. Perhaps psalms of peace and healing (Psalms 121, 122, 147) will be sung along with the typical Psalms 113-118 sung in the Hallel section of the seder. One well-known traditional ritual involves diminishing the amount of wine in one’s glass. First, we recall how G-d took us out from Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, with awesome power, signs and wonders. But before recounting the Biblical narrative of the ten plagues G-d brought upon the Egyptians, the Haggadah cites a midrash, an interpretative passage in the Talmud, that, while watching the Egyptians succumb to the ten plagues, the angels broke into songs of jubilation. G-d rebuked them, saying “My creatures are perishing, and you sing praises?”

We reflect on the suffering of the Egyptians, and accordingly, in our ritual, as we recite each plague, we spill a drop of wine from our cups.  The full cup of wine (or juice) which symbolizes our joy is diminished by each plague that befell the Egyptians. Our happiness and relief at being rescued from slavery will always be tarnished by the pain visited upon the Egyptians. The midrash about G-d rebuking the angels recognizes that this liberation of our people came at the expense of another people. We see in this the zero-sum model – the world view that one can gain only by another’s loss. Let us dream together of the day to come when we will see one’s gain specifically causing and specifically being caused by the other’s gain.

I invite you to look into the wine (or juice) that remains in your cup, dimly peer into its depth, and imagine this future. “

- Rabbi Ahuvah Loewenthal


*Stay tuned for more Notes from our Campus Chaplains!           

If you have any questions or queries or if you just want to connect with us, drop a email to Kalvin Cummings (Assistant Director for Religion and Spiritual Life) at or Or just drop by our office!