Written by: Beau Brown
Food, family, friends and the spirit of religious traditions make up the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. The traditions stretch back thousands of years and serve as a time of reminiscence for practicers of the Jewish faith. Commonly associated with Christmas, Hanukkah is in fact a holiday with few similarities to its Christian counterpart.
Various Jewish foods, such as latke, were served with a side of sparkling cider; and the room was decorated with menorahs, dreidels, and other holiday themes. Students and faculty alike congregated in the room to celebrate a holiday that has been observed by their families for generations.
Hanukkah stems from the Hebrew tale involving the rededication of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. According to legend, a one-day supply of oil meant to provide light to the temple miraculously lasted for a total of eight days after the Jewish people took the temple back.
Hanukkah is a living commemoration of this event, and the lighting of the menorah symbolizes the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days.
“Hanukkah isn’t one of the major Jewish holidays, but it is still important,” said Andria Kaplan, UA graduate student and treasurer of HeeBroos. “The message of Hanukkah is to remember the triumphs of the Hebrews.”
According to Craig Libman, another graduate student and member of HeeBroos, Hanukkah is also about perseverance and gathering.
“What I love about Hanukkah is being able to see my family and friends and to celebrate with them,” Libman said. “This holiday reminds us all that our ancestors fought through a lot and overcame oppression, so it inspires us to be determined.”
“Hanukkah helps us remember who we are as people,” said Mikha’el Vimont, vice president of HeeBroos. “It’s a combination of secular and religious values that make up the holiday and allow Jews and non-Jews to celebrate together.”
The HeeBroos is a growing on-campus community that promotes Jewish life and provides opportunities for Jewish students to participate in religious traditions such as Shabbat and various holidays such as Passover and Hanukkah.
A third annual Hanukkah Reception will be held next year at around the same time. Plan a visit and see for yourself what Hanukkah is truly about.