The lights of Chanukah

Wednesday, 4 December, 2013 - 12:18 pm

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The last night of Chanukah is always bittersweet for me.

The magnificence and warmth of a fully lit menorah, coupled with the knowledge that tomorrow we will be packing it away for another year leaves me wistful.

I love Chanukah and I love how we get to celebrate it here on campus. Jewish pride and celebration are at their peak, you would be hard pressed to find a person who does not enjoy this holiday. No fasting, long days of praying, branch waving or ram’s horn blowing. Just candle lighting, delicious food and childhood memories to keep us celebrating.

Each year I marvel at how excited people are to celebrate Chanukah, and finally this year proved once and for all that it really has NOTHING to do with the other December holiday, because the excitement was no less when we got bumped up to November:)

But the story of Chanukah itself actually explains this phenomenon.

The Chanukah miracle was about oil. Oil is a substance that, when mixed with other liquids, always rises to the top and does not mix easily with other substances. It remains intact. So too the Jewish soul, which is a part of G-d Himself. It rises up and remains intact. It is the Jewish soul that surfaces over Chanukah and reminds us that, just like the Chanukah oil, it is there and still intact. Ready to celebrate with joy and pride.

But it doesn’t have to end here.

At the end of the month of Tishrei, when the stream of high holidays comes to an end, we pack our ‘spiritual bags’ and take them into the year with us. Each holiday has its unique light and message to us and our job is to celebrate that light, study the many layers of the message and ensure that they shine onto the coming year for us.

Chanukah is no different, we celebrate and linger for eight days, but we musttake the joy and lessons we’ve learned and hold on to them as we get back into our regular routines.

Let’s continue celebrating our Jewishness with joy and pride. Let’s keep bringing light into our worlds. And let’s keep doing a mitzvah every day!

L’chaim to a beautiful year to come.


Ps Join us for one of the last Shabbats of the semester!

Picture of the week: 


Prof. Paul Rozin joined student leaders in lighting the Ice Menorah with Penn Band accompanying at Van Pelt.


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