Maryland Hillel helps students de-stress during finals

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Photo by history.org

By Adonijah Bourne
For Mitzpeh
@umdmitzpeh

This university’s Hillel continued its Hanukkah celebration on Wednesday with a de-stress event for students to take a break from finals and reflect on the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. 

The event began with a guided meditation led by Hillel social justice fellow Olivia Hazlett, followed by a video that told the story of the miracle of Hanukkah and concluded with the lighting of a candle and blessings. 

Students also discussed their favorite ways to relieve stress during finals season and shared tips on ways to be successful when taking exams, writing papers and completing projects. However, final exams posed a barrier for students, and only three were able to attend, according to Hazlett.

“Unfortunately I don’t think turnout was as high as I was anticipating but I did have a different event last night where we had 14 students come and we made edible dreidels,” she said.

Moshe Ackman, a senior aerospace engineering major who did not attend the event due to finals, said that he relieves stress from finals by staying active through walks and dance. 

“Getting moving is good especially during online school when you’re just sitting in front of a screen all day,” he said. “It gets the blood flowing and takes your mind off of school for a bit so you’re clear to refocus.”  

Chanan Oshry, a sophomore finance major, also wasn’t able to attend and shared that he de-stresses is by taking walks to clear his mind.

“I de-stress by going on 15 to 60 minute walks on the trails near my house because it provides a peaceful, quiet atmosphere away from distractions like electronics,” Oshry said.

Although Hanukkah coinciding with finals this year may have been a source of stress for some, and may have even impacted attendance at the event, Hazlett thought the holiday complemented the increased workload.

“I think there is a unique parallel between the story of Hanukkah with the oil lasting for eight days and making sure students don’t experience burnout,” she said.

This de-stress event was one of several events that Hillel hosted for students to celebrate Hanukkah. Other events included learning how to cook a variety of Hanukkah dishes, making edible dreidels, a game night and lighting candles at the Hillel building, according to their website. 

Due to the current pandemic caused by the coronavirus, students have been taking classes mostly online this semester. Although Hazlett said because some students described this semester as “lonely,” Hillel is making it an emphasis to help connect students through these virtual events.

“With COVID restrictions, it’s not like they are able to just walk into our building and attend a mass event,” she said. “I’ve been finding it very important to connect with students and make sure they know how to access [Hillel] and use us to their benefit.”

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