On Tuesday, December 3rd, the Jewish-Muslim Coalition hosted it’s first celebration of Hanukkah on campus. Hanukkah or Chanukah, depending on the pronunciation, is an eight-day celebration in the Jewish faith, and means “dedication” in Hebrew, and begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, which means it falls in November or December on the Gregorian calendar. The holiday traces its origins back to around 200 B.C.E, when while under Greco-Syrian rule, the Jews living in Jerusalem rose up against the occupiers who had desecrated the city’s holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus, a Greek god, and conducting sacrifices within the temple. After the rebellion had driven the occupiers out of the Temple, the Jewish leader Judah Maccabee called on his followers to restore the Second Temple by rebuilding it’s altar and lighting it’s menorah, a solid gold lampstand with seven branches, meant to represent knowledge and creation, and have it burning every night.
It was here the most common story of the Hanukkah “miracle” begins, according to the Talmud, a central text in the Jewish faith, the Jews who took part in the Temple rededication lit the menorah, knowing they only had enough oil to keep the menorah lit for one night, but to their astonishment, the seven branches of the menorah remained lit and aflame for the next eight days and nights, leaving them time to find a new supply of oil, and thus the celebration of Hanukkah was born.
Camille San Gabriel, President of the Jewish – Muslim Coalition, hopes that by hosting the celebration students can “learn about the holiday and have fun and connect with people.”. The event was hosted in the Weygand multi-purpose room, and featured a number of traditional Hanukah staples, such as traditional foods like matzah ball soup and games like spin the dreidel, a four sided top that decides who takes or adds coins to a pot, with the winner being the person who eventually wins all the coins on the table. Speakers took turns recounting their Hanukah experiences, and how refreshing it was to see an organization like the Jewish-Muslim Coalition on campus bringing people together.
On what the Coalition represents, President San Gabriel explained “We are a student run club dedicated to education of diversity on campus. There is a stigma of Jewish people and Muslim people being friends. We also want a safe space where students can express their ethnic and religious identities”. President San Gabriel encourages anyone interested to join the club “I get this a lot, you don’t have to be Jewish or Muslim to join, we accept all people and we are actively looking for more members for next semester and we are looking for someone to join our E-board for the P.R. position.”.
President San Gabrielle encourages anyone interested to email them at email@example.com.
Hanukkah this year will begin at sundown on December 22nd and run until the evening of December 30th.