Rededicating the light of Hanukkah

Emma Esteb – Staff Writer

The Multifaith Leadership Council (MLC) hosted a Hanukkah event at 5:00 p.m. on Nov 30 in the Heritage Room. The event consisted of a small Hanukkah celebration. They lit the Menorah which signifies the creation of the earth in seven days, with the center light representing the Shabbat. The Menorah is made up of seven lamps which emphasize human knowledge and the light of God. At the event, students explained the importance of the Menorah and the history behind it.
The meaning and Hebrew definition of the word Hanukkah is “dedication.” Contrary to popular belief, Hanukkah is a “minor holiday in Judaism and it is emphasized today more than historically because of its proximity to Christmas” according to Interfaith Program Coordinator in Chaplains’ Office and Visiting Assistant Professor Dr. Broida.
The eight days of Hanukkah “follow the Jewish calendar, which is partly lunar, so the dates move around each year” according to Broida. The holiday began at sunset on Nov. 28 and will end on sunset Dec. 6. For the event that took place on Nov 30, the MLC not only lit the Hanukkah candles but they also played with a dreidel and passed out goody bags with chocolate coins.
The MLC “promotes interfaith leadership, learning, and cooperation” according to the Gustavus website. The group focuses on inclusivity and creating a place where all students of all faiths feel comfortable and appreciated.

The MLC decided to host this event and come together as a community to “empower Jewish students as they often feel like a minority religion here on campus,” junior MLC co-president Shannon Halen said.

The history behind Hanukkah focuses on a conflict between the Jews and the ruler of the Seleucid Empire during the mid-2nd century BCE. The ruler of this empire ultimately did a number of things that instigated a rebellion by a group of Jews called the Maccabees. The Jews during this time period would practice specific rituals at their Temple which the Selecuid ruler forbade.
During the war the Seleucid army overtook their Temple but the Jews reclaimed and rededicated it, naming it Hanukkah as dedication. According to tradition they needed specially prepared oil to keep the eternal light in the Temple. They had only found enough oil for one night.
But amazingly, the oil lasted them eight days and even produced more oil after.

The Jews understand and celebrate this holiday as a remembrance for God’s miraculous intervention. The menorah has eight candles representing the eight days of oil, with each night of Hanukkah having a candle lit.

With Christmas in Christ Chapel and other Christmas related events happening on campus, Halen said the MLC wanted to acknowledge Hanukkah and the Jewish students at Gustavus.

With that, the Chaplain’s office will also be posting information and sponsoring events for the major Jewish holidays according to the Gustavus website.

The Chaplain’s office has resources for students interested in celebrating Shabbat and holidays.
The Bonnier Multifaith Space has “candles, juice, and copies of the Mishkan T’filah for Gatherings siddur (prayer book), candlesticks and lighter” for students interested in celebrating the Shabbat according to the Gustavus website. A hanukkiyah (menorah) will also be available in the Bonnier Multifaith Space. For the holiday of Passover, Seders-in-a-box will be offered in the weeks before the holiday and an opportunity to attend a seder with a host family are available with the help of Assistant Professor of Religion, Dr. Sammuel Kessler.
The Gustavus website provides information and links to religious services of synagogues that are holding virtual Sabbath services. The website also gives additional virtual resources and community resources for the Jewish community at Gustavus to use. Different Hanukkah events will be taking place on campus Nov 28-Dec 6 with specific details to be announced.
The push for these events is creating a diverse and welcoming community at Gustavus that encompasses all religions. The opportunities to learn about other religions helps students be educated on different faith practices. The diverse faith community that Gustavus has created is shaping our school for the better.

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