Hillel, Res Life offer Hanukkah celebrations

The halls allow candle-lighting in common areas under staff supervision.
Junior desk attendant Aver Yakubu lights a menorah on the sixth night of Hanukkah on Monday at Hatch Hall. The university made an effort to accommodate Hanukkah celebrations during this holiday season.

Students are gathering at Hillel for each night of Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish holiday that ends Wednesday. This year, for the first time since 2007, Hanukkah takes place during the fall semester, not winter break.

Hillel bustled with activity Friday evening especially as about 40 students gathered to celebrate the third night of Hanukkah in an expanded ceremony.

Freshman Teddy Nykiel was among the students in attendance at the ceremony, where students had the opportunity to light menorahs and later eat latkes and matzo ball soup.

In addition to the Hanukkah services at Hillel, Residential Life allows students the opportunity to celebrate Hanukkah in their dorms as long as they follow specific guidelines, like using candles only in public commons under the supervision of a staff member.

“We have a long-standing, close working relationship with the campus Hillel Center which has allowed our Jewish students, or those interested in learning about the Jewish faith, history and celebrations, to celebrate Hanukkah in the residence halls for many years,” Director of Residential Life Frankie Minor said in an email.

But some students said they were not aware of the offering.

“Mizzou should publicize it more,” Nykiel said.

Traditionally, Hillel provides the residence halls with materials so students can celebrate Hanukkah.

“We have the requisite number of menorahs, candles and literature for each hall, should they choose or desire to celebrate this holiday,” Minor said.

Residence hall policy prohibits the use of lit candles in dorm rooms, but Residential Life worked with Hillel to make accommodations to celebrate the holiday.

“We typically don’t allow candles in the residence halls, but for this we do it in a common space, which might be a lounge or lobby area depending on the preferences of the students,” said Kristen Temple, associate director for Residential Academic Programs. “They do light the candles, but there is a staff member there to observe. Once the celebration is concluded, they put out the candles and make sure there is nothing lingering."

Temple said after the ceremony is concluded, they put the candles away and take them out again the next evening.

The lighting ceremonies vary among each residence hall.

“In the past, some halls have had more students who were interested in a traditional ceremony, and some may have had events like potlucks,” Temple said. “Some students come from more traditional backgrounds so it would be more of a traditional ceremony, while others come from a more liberal background, and they don’t find that they want it to be as traditional of a celebration.

Temple said some ceremonies are brief, and it’s based on the preferences of the students.

In the past years, some halls have had as few as two people, while others have 15 to 20 people in attendance.

“It’s not the same as being home," Nykiel said. "But being at Hillel for Hanukkah brought a little taste of home to college."

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