Editor’s note: In the interest of transparency, it is important to note that Miller is an AEPi member.
By Miller Friedman
Hanukkah is a holiday that was started to celebrate a miracle.
While the Maccabees’ unlikely defeat of Antiochus and the miracle of the oil is still at the forefront of Jewish minds during Hanukkah, which will be celebrated from Dec. 12 to Dec. 20 this year, the holiday has also turned into a time to celebrate the joys of family and community.
Junior finance major Jason Goldstein said that while his family is not extremely observant, Hanukkah is still a holiday they celebrate to the fullest extent because of the significance it holds.
“At home, we do all the typical things,” Goldstein said. “We light the candles, we say the prayers, but just being with my family during that time makes Hanukkah special for me.”
Goldstein also said that while he thinks the high holidays and Passover are the most traditional of the Jewish holidays, he still views Hanukkah as one of the most important and rewarding Jewish traditions.
“Hanukkah is right up there with the rest of those traditional holidays when it comes to spending time with my family,” Goldstein said.
Hanukkah falls entirely during finals week this year, but at this university, Jewish organizations are doing their best to make sure students feel that sense of community between study sessions.
There will be several events held during Hanukkah in communal locations on campus so students do not have to venture far to celebrate.
For the first time,Rabbi Eli Backman said, Chabad will have a room in McKeldin Library every night of Hanukkah from 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. where students can take a break from studying with food and celebration.
Additionally, on the first night of Hanukkah, there will be a large menorah outside of McKeldin Library that will be lit at around 5:30 p.m.
Sophomore government and politics major Julia Levine said she is excited to go to McKeldin and watch the menorah being lit on the first night of Hanukkah.
“It will definitely be cool to see a symbol of my religion being showcased like that in the middle of campus,” Levine said. “Christmas always gets most of the attention this time of year, so it’s nice to know that when people walk by McKeldin in a few days, Hanukkah will be on their minds too.”
When a holiday as big as Hanukkah falls during finals week, students like Zach Stein are grateful that they have a support system for the holidays.
“It makes everything a lot easier,” said Stein, a junior psychology major and Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity member. “Other people are also looking to celebrate, so it’s not like I’d be going out and venturing out and doing all of this on my own. There will be people who will be willing to take a break from finals with me.”
Stein said the members of his fraternity will be lighting the menorah every night in his chapter house and that he looks forward to sharing that experience with some of his best friends.
Maryland Hillel will also be celebrating “Shabbatukkah,” which is a Hanukkah celebration in conjunction with its weekly Shabbat dinner. This event will start at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 15, according to the organization’s Facebook page.