December 16, 2010
A 10-foot-tall menorah shed a faint yet powerful light over the students, faculty, and members of the surrounding community who had gathered to welcome the first day of the Jewish holiday known as Hanukkah.
Of all the Jewish holidays, the “Festival of Lights” is probably the most easily recognized given its proximity to Christmas. Hanukkah, which officially began at sunset on December 1, is celebrated for eight consecutive days and nights starting on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, which corresponds with late November and early December of the Gregorian calendar.
Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Chaim Lipskier led the celebration with a short history of Hanukkah. The holiday commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Seleucid armies. Tradition follows that the liberators had found only enough sanctified oil to light the temple lamp for a single day. Miraculously, however, the light burned for eight days, until new oil could be provided.
In honor of this miracle, George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Professor of Religion Yudith Greenberg, who is also the director of the Jewish Studies Program, lit the first candle of the menorah. Other customs that are observed during this time include spinning of the dreidel and exchanging gelt (chocolate coins) as well as eating foods fried in oil such as Latkes, pancakes made out of potatoes and onions, and Sufganiyot, jelly-filled donuts.
Rabbi Lipskier says that the message of Hanukkah is simple, yet profound: “There has been progress, but we must recognize that our work is not done yet. Despite all the darkness in the world, each of us adds a little bit of light.”
The event was sponsored by the Jewish Student Union (JSU), the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), the Jewish Studies Program and Chabad of Central Florida. The purpose of Chabad is to acquaint every Jewish individual and those interested in Judaism with the richness of the Jewish faith. This is accomplished through numerous programs that provide spiritual, physical and emotional assistance including Torah study, on-campus Chabad houses and a Jewish woman’s circle.
“I look forward to the Jewish Student Union collaborating with Chabad over the course of the next semester and beyond,” said Dan Berlinger (Class of 2013), education secretary of JSU.
For more information about JSU, please contact Rachel Luce, assistant director of multicultural affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Anna Montoya (Class of 2013)
Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
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