By Nira Dayanim

Features Editor

For Mitzpeh


Chanukah, a Jewish winter holiday also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates the recovery of Jerusalem from the control of the ancient Greeks and the rededication of the Jewish temple after its desecration. The holiday takes place over eight days and nights to honor the miracle of a jug of oil in the temple that lasted for eight days though it was only expected to last for one.

This year, the holiday began on the evening of Nov. 28, just over a month after after this university’s President Darryll Pines sent out an email condemning antisemitism in response to the distribution of antisemitic pamphlets in October. It’s also a month after a Torah scroll was desecrated and covered in blue detergent at George Washington University, 10 miles away.

Antisemitic hate crimes, like hate crimes in general, have been rising for the past few years. In an October survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee, one in four American Jews said they have been the target of antisemitism in the last year.

But on Chanukah, Jewish students at this university lit their menorahs anyway, displaying the ritual candelabra in the window for everyone to see.

A student lights Chanukah candles on his apartment’s windowsill in College Park, Md. on Nov., 28, the first night of the holiday. In the Jewish tradition, the menorah, a candelabrum, is supposed to be lit publically to remind passersby of the miracle of the Chanukah story. (Nira Dayanim/Mitzpeh)
Chabad Rabbi Eli Backman, 53, lights a 10-foot menorah in front of Mckeldin Mall in College Park, Md., on Nov. 29, the second night of Chanukah. Over 100 students gathered to celebrate the candle-lighting together. (Nira Dayanim/Mitzpeh)
Stephanie Deichman, a sophomore double majoring in history and government and politics, lights candles in her apartment in College Park, Md. The holiday reminds Deichman of her history and the strength of her ancestors, she said. (Nira Dayanim/Mitzpeh)
Deichman lights candles at her apartment in College Park, Md., on Nov. 30, 2021. (Nira Dayanim/Mitzpeh)
Yonah Hamermesh, 22, pauses to watch her Chanukah candles burn after lighting them in her apartment in College Park, Md. on Dec. 1, 2021 “On one hand, when I light candles I’m proud of being Jewish. There’s also a bit of fear with it as well because you’re marking yourself as a Jew. In times when things aren’t always great for Jews, you can’t take that for granted,” she said. (Nira Dayanim/Mitzpeh)
Shana Lowenstein, a junior marketing major,  lights candles in the window of her apartment in College Park, Md., on Dec. 1, 2021, the fifth night of Chanukah. Lowenstein is the president of Kedma, the Orthodox Jewish community at the University of Maryland. (Nira Dayanim/Mitzpeh)
Joshua Kanarek, a sophomore neurobiology and physiology major, lights candles on the balcony of his apartment in College Park, Md. on Dec., 2021, the fifth night of Chanukah. “At home, everyone driving down my block is Jewish and they know what Chanukah is. Here, somebody will see me lighting candles and it’s cool that they get to be exposed to my culture and they get to share in it in some aspects,” he said. (Nira Dayanim/Mitzpeh)
Kanarek’s menorah glows on his balcony in College Park, Md. on Dec. 2, 2021. The menorah has a glass cover that prevents wind or rain from blowing out the candles prematurely. (Nira Dayanim/Mitzpeh)
Chanukah candles burn in this university’s Hillel in College Park, Md., on Dec. 4, 2021. Kedma, the Orthodox Jewish community on campus, held a Chanukah banquet in Hillel to celebrate the holiday and Jewish culture. (Nira Dayanim/Mitzpeh)
In Ritchie Coloseum on Dec. 5, 2021, Rabbi Ari Israel, executive director of Maryland Hillel, speaks at “Spin Love, Not Hate,” an event discussing antisemitism and other forms of hate following a national spike in hate crimes. “Chanukah is a story of resistance,” he said. “Light in our tradition plays such a key role.” (Nira Dayanim/Mitzpeh)


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