JSO hosts Hanukkah candle lighting at Hillel

The eight-day celebration of Hanukkah ends Wednesday.
Freshman Jeremy Hershey-Nexon lights candles and sings Sunday at the Mizzou Hillel. The Jewish Student Organization holds menorah lighting ceremonies during Hanukkah.

Since Hanukkah does not coincide with this academic year's winter break, Jewish students are altering their holiday traditions to celebrate on campus.

This year, Hanukkah started on Dec. 1, and ends on Wednesday, Dec. 8.

Freshman Jessica Smith said she usually celebrates Hanukkah at home, with her family.

"At home, I eat latkes with my family on the first night of Hanukkah," Smith said. "Then, later on in the week I get together with my mom's whole side of the family for our annual Hanukkah party. We all exchange gifts and have a latke eating contest."

But, being on campus during Hanukkah has forced Smith to change her usual celebrations.

"I brought an electric menorah to light in the dorms," Smith said. "I also brought a few dreidels and some gelt (chocolate coins) so I could teach my friends at school how to play dreidel."

Aside from private dorm room celebrations, the Jewish Student Organization is offering students the opportunity to celebrate Hanukkah alongside other Jewish students.

JSO Vice President Emily Shyken said there has been candle lighting at 4:30 p.m. every night during Hanukkah at Hillel.

The tradition behind the candle lighting dates back to a historical event in ancient Israel, Shyken said.

"The reason we light candles is to celebrate the fact that the Maccabees in ancient Israel were fleeing from the Greeks, and they took off with whatever they could, and they only had enough oil to light lamps for one day, but somehow they got this oil to last for eight,” Shyken said. “That's why we light candles every night, adding a new candle each night."

Along with candle lighting, JSO also held a Hanukkah party after the Friday Shabbat dinner that fell during Hanukkah.

Hanukkah ends at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday with the final candle lighting ceremony at Hillel.

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