Jewish student organizations bring the celebration of light to MU

Junior Rachel Green: “To me individually Hanukkah means a time to celebrate (my) religion.”
MU student Aver Yakubu lights a menorah on the sixth night of Hanukkah at Hatch Hall. The university made an effort to accommodate Hanukkah celebrations during this holiday season. Maneater File Photo

The Jewish Student Organization, MU Chabad and Mizzou Hillel are illuminating campus at the close of the semester for the celebration of light, Hanukkah.

Hanukkah commemorates the ability of ancient Jewish fighters to keep their menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum, lit for eight days with only one day's worth of oil during their persecution under the Greek Empire.

“(Hanukkah) is about a miracle that the tradition says (happened) when the Jews were cleaning the temple after it was ransacked,” said Jeanne Snodgrass, the executive director of Mizzou Hillel and the advisor for the Jewish Student Organization. “They only found enough oil to light the eternal candle for one night, but yet it lasted for eight nights until someone was able to go where they could get more and bring it back.”

Traditionally, Hanukkah was not a holiday in which gifts were exchanged. However, this has changed due to the holiday’s proximity to Christmas. People also play a special game with a dreidel, a spinning top with four sides.

Hanukkah traditions have shifted over the years, Snodgrass said, but one of her favorite traditions is the one that focuses on celebration and time with family.

“The tradition is that you light the Hanukkah candles each night and you add additional nights successively for the eight nights of Hanukkah, so that you have more and more light from the menorah,” Snodgrass said. “The tradition is that you let the candles burn all the way down and while they are burning you don’t do any work. It’s a nice reminder to take a break and enjoy your friends and family.”

Snodgrass said there are an estimated 800-900 Jewish students at the university. This year, Hanukkah began on Sunday, Dec. 6 and ends on Monday, Dec. 14.

On Sunday, Hillel hosted a Hanukkah party, where the menorah was officially lit. Throughout the rest of the holiday, other organizations on campus will be hosting their own Hanukkah celebrations.

On Wednesday, MU Chabad will be hosting “Chanukah on MU’s Campus” from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Student Center. According to its website, the event will consist of the lighting of the Mizzou CAN-ORAH, free dreidels, menorahs, a dreidel spinning competition, a limited-edition shirt and traditional food. The event will be free and anyone is welcome to come and help build the CAN-ORAH at 4 p.m. in the Student Center. Also, Hillel and MU Chabad will co-sponsor a menorah lighting at 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 in Responsibility Classroom.

If Jewish students are interested in celebrating Hanukkah alone, they can go to the front desk of their residence hall and light a menorah, Snodgrass said. Also, students who live off campus can come to the Hillel building and obtain information and a menorah in order to celebrate the holiday.

This will be junior Rachel Green’s first time spending the entire eight days of Hanukkah at MU, and she plans to attend the Hanukkah party at Hillel while spending time with friends.

“To me individually Hanukkah means a time to celebrate (my) religion and be proud of everything that is going on,” Green said.

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