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Largest Chanukah Party in Rutgers History
by Michelle Schwartz

Rutgers University students were treated to a mindboggling Chanukah party last week on the 3rd night of the festival of lights, marked by personal menorah lightings, doughnut making, real candle dipping, and a wild dreidel spinoff contest with grand prizes, all sponsored by Chabad House.

Brittany Liebes, a Rutgers senior, and Chabad at Rutgers’ student President, organized a team of a dozen campus activists, together with JCafe’s student Director Marli Dinovitzer, and pulled off a most successful celebration of Chanukah, with hundreds of students lighting their own personal menorahs by the many windows in Chabad’s synagogue and dining hall. “We all could not believe how many people came to celebrate Chanukah this year – it was real show of Jewish unity and identity,” Brittany commented. Marli added, “the streams of people entering Chabad did not stop the whole night, with tons of new students descending on Chabad House to enjoy and be involved in the holiday.”

Blue and white dipped candles were created at the candle making station led by Chabad Team members Tori Sciara, Rachel Saleh and Juliet Matthew.  Frosted and jelly filled doughnuts were made under the direction of Chabad’s Master Challah Baker, Sarah Gutwein, and the giant menorah lightings that took place both in front of Chabad House and on the front steps of Brower Commons were organized by Chabad Student CEO, Meir Brotsky, together with student activists Zach Peller, Tani Siegelman, Elijah Lippe, Louis Hess, Micky Aflalo, Daisy Gulko, Ike Dresdner, Hannah Levine, Brian Mandelkern, Sarah Schochet, and a public message by Reva Lewitter regarding seeing Chanukah in a different light – the light of how the Maccabees inspired their generation to stand strong as Jews, and how we need to be today’s Maccabees. Immediately following the communal lighting of the Chabad’s Giant Menorah, Brittany Liebes treated everyone to a fun medley of Chanukah songs on the piano, accompanied by singing and dancing.

Besides the Menorah Lightings themselves, the highpoint of the night was the Mega Dreidel Spinoff Tournament, headed up by Chabad leaders Perry Halawani and Albert Cohen. Literally hundreds of students gathered around to cheer on the contestants who faced off with each other to see who could spin the dreidel the longest. Perry made the tournament come to life with great enthusiasm and a most professional announcer voice. The winners, Leah Needle, Ezra Guralnick, David Rabinovich and Ronnie Harary all received Amazon cash gift cards.

Additionally, Chabad’s Campus Director, Rabbi Baruch Goodman, held impromptu Chanukah parties at various fraternities, sororities and off campus houses throughout the eight day holiday including Delta Gamma Sorority, AEPi Fraternity, SigmaAEPi Sorority, SDT Sorority, and Chi Psi Fraternity. Chabad’s Educational Director Rabbi Shaya Shagalow, led a 15-car driven Menorah Parade throughout Rutgers’s five campuses, as well as surrounding towns including Highland Park, Edison and New Brunswick with hundreds of students cheering the Menorah cars on and capturing the unique event on their cell phones.

Menorahs were also mailed to APOs and military locations obtained from the campus’ ROTC to Jewish officers and troops serving overseas. Funds were also collected, under the direction of Chabad’s student Treasurer Albert Cohen, and sent to Chabad’s IDF Support Fund to provide Israeli chayalim – soldiers on duty defending our Holy Land. Marli spoke of how Chabad and its rabbi and student leaders opened her eyes to the joys of living a Jewishly observant life and “how Chabad is very much like the Chanukah menorah, illuminating the darkness, and spreading light, warmth, knowledge and Jewish enthusiasm to Jews everywhere.”



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