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UA Mall menorah lighting commemorates end of Chanukah

Lili+Steffen%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AChabad+at+the+UA+held+a+menorah+lighting+ceremony+celebrating+Chanukah+with+latkes+and+doughnuts+for+UA+students+away+from+home+on+the+UA+Mall%2C+Tuesday.+Rabbi+Yossi+Winner+gave+an+opening+address+and+led+the+prayers+for+Chanukah.
Lili Steffen
Lili Steffen/ The Daily Wildcat Chabad at the UA held a menorah lighting ceremony celebrating Chanukah with latkes and doughnuts for UA students away from home on the UA Mall, Tuesday. Rabbi Yossi Winner gave an opening address and led the prayers for Chanukah.

A small group of students and community members gathered on the UA Mall on Tuesday night, where a rabbi spoke about the origin of Chanukah and led the crowd in singing prayers.

Rabbi Yossi Winner then climbed a ladder to light seven candles on a 10-foot tall menorah. Chabad at the UA, a Jewish community center on campus, held the menorah lighting to celebrate the seventh night of Chanukah.

After the menorah was lit, the crowd was invited to dance and try traditional Jewish latkes and donuts.

The menorah represents religious freedom, independence, family, happiness and thanksgiving, Winner said.

“Light a candle in a dark room, and the darkness is pushed away,” Winner said. “We also light a candle and bring a little warmth and happiness to ourselves, our families, our friends and, hopefully, all these little candles together create a large, beautiful, warm environment.”

This year, the first day of Chanukah fell on Thanksgiving. The holidays won’t overlap again for more than 70,000 years.

Winner told the assembled crowd he referred to it as “hashtag Thanksgivukkah.”

Aliza Robin, a graduate student studying speech language and hearing sciences, said the collision of holidays was practical because they celebrate similar themes.

“The two holidays go well together,” Robin said, “giving thanks for the small miracles and the great things we have in life. I think it’s good that it coincides.”

Making the menorah lighting a public event was good for the UA community because it highlights the diversity here, said Hilla Hascalovici, a pre-business freshman.

“The menorah lighting is something that Jews all across the world do,” Hascalovici said. “It’s something that [when] people are walking by and they see it … it brings a sense of togetherness.”

Having Winner host the lighting on the Mall also brings together the Jewish community on campus and builds excitement, said Asa Pitt, a psychology junior.

“Rabbi gets so fired up for everything that he makes it even better than it already is,” Pitt said. “He wanted to boost it up tonight.”

Many of those who attended said lighting the menorah had personal meaning for them.

Grant Rosenberg, a sociology sophomore, said the menorah lighting brought him closer to his faith.

“Being able to experience this and be reminded of my faith and the things important to me and the things that I’m thankful for in the holidays was really special,” Rosenberg said.

Pitt said that to him, the menorah symbolizes the tenacity of the Jewish spirit.

To Robin, the story of the menorah symbolizes the little miracles that keep us going.

“When you think you can’t make it through something,” Robin said, “whether it be something so trivial as finals, or anything in life that’s challenging, you can look at a story like this.”

Today is the last day of Chanukah, and Chabad at the UA will hold a menorah lighting again tonight at 5:30 on the Mall.

The entire UA community is invited to join the celebration, Winner said, because although the holiday is Jewish, the message is universal.

“We all have a little light in our lives and our soul,” Winner said. “Sometimes we have low times, but the way to reach a better tomorrow or a better self is just to light up a little candle.”

– Follow Jazmine Foster-Hall @Jazz_Foster

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