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Chanukah lights up campus life at Rutgers University
by Talia Friedman, Jasmine Morodi
How do you turn an eight-day holiday into an eight-week celebration? Simply mix a dash of preparation, a pinch of excitement, sprinkle some creativity, add some outstanding Rutgers Chabad students and you come out with a spectacular recipe that yields eight-days of celebration.

This year, Chanukah at Rutgers was more than just an eight-day holiday commemorating a miracle. Much like the Maccabees of long ago, Rutgers Chabad students banded together to spread the light throughout the Rutgers campus and proudly celebrate Jewish life. Not wanting to miss a beat, student leaders Effy Gittler, Talia Friedman, Jasmine Moradi and Debra Zauderer met at the beginning of October to plan the Chanukah events. Part of that planning was the ambitious task of constructing wooden, electric menorahs to be used in the Chanukah Menorah Mobile Parade.

Every night the sound of saws, drills and clicking of machinery could be heard emanating from the Chabad House's basement. Jewish students of all backgrounds worked side by side in unison until this monumental task was completed. Thus, after the Thanksgiving break and weeks of planning and building, Rutgers Chabad was finally ready to take on Chanukah.

A banner, erected above Brower Commons at the Rutgers University New Brunswick campus, wished everyone a Happy Chanukah. Tables were set up and Rutgers Chabad students spread the light to every passerby as they handed out menorahs, pamphlets and greeted everyone in the spirit of the holiday. It was under this banner that Rutgers Chabad students began gathering on Monday, December 2nd, for the evening's Menorah Lighting Ceremony. As the music blared, over 100 spectators gathered and socialized while enjoying fresh latkes, donuts and refreshments. "It was great seeing the Jewish students on campus uniting outside of Brower to join in the mitzvah of lighting the menorah", said Aliza Bernstein, a Rutgers sophomore. Kaila Blumenthal, a freshman at Rutgers, shared that she "thought it was really meaningful seeing that many Jews united on the street lighting the menorah together, it displayed great unity."

Rabbi Boruch Goodman, campus Rabbi, addressed the crowd with inspirational words about Chanukah. The attention was then drawn in the direction of the hand constructed 8-foot tall menorah. Effy Gittler, a Rutgers sophomore, was assisted by Rabbi Yeshaya Shagalow, Director of Education at Chabad House, in the lighting of the menorah. "I enjoyed the ceremony because it brought together a lot of Jews on campus regardless of their affiliation and it spread Jewish awareness at the same time" exclaimed Josh Krieger a Rutgers sophomore. The excitement and feeling of unity only grew as 15 cars, affixed with the student constructed menorahs took part in a first time ever Chanukah Menorah Mobile Parade. Starting in front of Brower Commons, the long row of menorahs wove their way through all five of Rutgers New Brunswick campuses and the Highland Park community. The long row of cars caught the attention of bystanders who stared in awe and snapped photos and videos as Rutgers Chabad continued to spread light of Chanukah through the night.

On Tuesday, December 3rd, the seventh day of Chanukah Rutgers Chabad held their National Founders 35th Anniversary Dinner. This momentous event honored Amy B. Mansue, President and CEO of Children’s Specialized Hospital and the Honorable Bill Baroni, Deputy Executive Director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. This gave students an opportunity to shed some light on their community service as Debra Zauderer, a Rutgers Freshman, spoke about their volunteer work at Children’s Specialized Hospital. The audience was truly inspired as they heard how students bonded with patients and their families. This is just another shining example of the efforts by Rutgers Chabad students to bring light into the lives of those in need in the community beyond the walls of the Rutgers campus.

The final and eight day of Chanukah, Wednesday December 4th, brought the Rutgers students together for various menorah lightings throughout the campus. As Rutgers Chabad students handed out menorahs throughout the university, the feeling of unity was palpable in the air and spread throughout the campus. The feeling of Jewish unity spread to the Busch Campus, where what was described by students as a “beautiful public menorah lighting” took place. While the students bonded outside during the menorah lightings, inside Rutgers Chabad House a grand finale celebration awaited them.

The culmination of the eight days of Chanukah ended with a blast as Rutgers Chabad welcomed Rutgers students into their “home away from home” for a celebration. The festivities included life-size games such as human bowling, dreidel competitions, a mechanical bull, a bouncy house were students bounced the night away. There were platters of potato latkes, donuts and a delicious buffet to please every palate. The music played in the background, the smell of popcorn and hotdogs wafted through the air and students celebrated together in unison the last night of Chanukah. One of the many highlights of the evening was the unveiling and lighting of a Hookah Menorah. The evening was a true success and helped forge new and existing friendships in the Jewish community at Rutgers. Thus, after 100 pounds of chocolate Chanukah gelt, 500 menorahs given out, a countless amount of candles lit, and an immeasurable number of smiles, Chanukah at Rutgers came to an end.

Rutgers Chabad wishes for everyone to take the lights of the menorah and keep it glowing inside and outside of them all year round.

















 

 


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