By Nicole Wohlberg
Tonight marks the first night of Hanukkah. Many programs are taking place to celebrate the holiday, such as the annual menorah lighting ceremony hosted by Chabad at Maryland in front of McKeldin Library. President Loh will be present at the event as well as SGA President Jonathan Allen, who will be lighting the menorah this year. Latkes, dreidels and gelt will be distributed at the event.
The Hirschhorns, an OU-JLIC couple on campus, are hosting a Hanukkah party at their house on Monday night to create a homey environment for Jewish students who are celebrating on campus and away from their families.
Shlomit Menashe, a freshman public policy major, expressed concern about celebrating Hanukkah this year, a holiday typically spent with her family.
“In college when so much of your focus is on school and work, the stress level really starts to rise and people really start missing home, so it’s really just to create a homey, family environment Hanukkah party,” said Avital Hirschhorn.
Sophie Silvermintz, a sophomore education major, expressed her excitement for this event.
“I am really looking forward to going to the Hirschhorn’s on Monday night because I know that there will be really good food, good company and a nice break from the stress of finals,” she said.
But it’s not all fun and games. December is also finals season, which impacts this year’s celebration for some.
“When I originally saw Hanukkah on the calendar I said I am not planning anything, there is no point,” said Avital Hirschhorn.
Hillel has planned many programs to make Hanukkah enjoyable and fun given the timing of finals.
“At our Hillel staff meeting, we said that we are pushing this and we want to make it big because students want things to be happening throughout the week,” said Avital Hirschhorn.
However, some students view Hanukkah as a nice way to take a break from all of the stress.
“I think that Hanukkah falling out when it does will add some light to a very stressful time,” said Menashe.
Hillel will also host a “Hanukkah Extravaganza” on Wednesday night, an event formerly known as “Winterfest.” It will be filled with latkes, doughnuts, giveaways and special surprises. Students who pre-register for the event automatically get put into a raffle to win a “finals survival kit.”
This university will also cater to Jewish students by providing spaces for freshmen, who live in the dorms, to light candles each night.
“I am really excited to be able to light in the dorms with my friends because I was nervous I wouldn’t have those opportunities this year,” said Menashe.
Sigma Delta Tau (SDT), a sorority on campus, is also finding ways to celebrate Hanukkah.
“My pledge class is doing a Mystery Maccabee/Secret Santa gift exchange on Sunday night on Hanukkah and it is going to be very cute,” said Tori Bergel, a sophomore journalism major and member of SDT.
Hillel is hosting a similar “Mystery Maccabee” event.
“Our Jewish community is really big, which is a blessing but not everyone knows each other. The purpose of Mystery Maccabee is to give and receive gifts to and from people you might not know so well to increase the warmth and make our community seem smaller,” said Mayan Beroukhim, a junior family science major and collaboration chair for Kedma.
The wide variety of events happening on campus over Hanukkah this year provides students with many ways to celebrate.
“I can’t wait for what’s in store for the eight days of Hanukkah,” said Silvermintz.