Among the things LSA sophomore Rachel Robbins said she was thankful for this holiday was the proximity of Thanksgiving on the calendar to Hanukkah.
“It was really good that it fell on Thanksgiving Break,” she said. “It’s better for it to fall on some break rather than no break.”
Instead of cooking latkes and lighting the menorah on their own, some students this year could celebrate Hanukkah with their families because Thanksgiving break fell on the first two days of the Jewish holiday.
LSA senior Michael Simon expressed similar appreciation for the close dates of both holidays.
“It was the first time since I’ve been in college that I’ve been able to celebrate Hanukkah with my family,” he said. “It was nice to be home and celebrate two holidays back-to-back.”
Simon added that remembering the terrorist attacks in Kenya and the violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict tinged the holiday festivities with a somber tone.
“The story of Hanukkah is really about a small group of people overcoming adversity to survive,” he said. “We’re thankful that the violence hasn’t hit our family, but we’re concerned for the families on both sides that it has hit.”
Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Jewish Maccabees over the Greek Syrians. After the triumphant battle, the Maccabees reclaimed their temple the Syrians had occupied. The Maccabees needed to rededicate their temple by lighting the candles of the menorah, but had only enough sacramental oil to burn for one day. According to Jewish scripture, the oil miraculously lasted for eight days, hence the eight-day celebration of the holiday.
“The idea of Hanukkah is victory of the positive over the negative,” said Rabbi Alter Goldstein, director of Chabad House. “A little light sheds away a lot of darkness.”
Goldstein added that Jews celebrate the holiday in the same manner as they did more than 2,000 years ago. Custom stipulates celebrators of Hanukkah to light a new candle on the menorah each night of the holiday until all candles are lit on the last night. Followers also traditionally eat foods cooked in oil, such as donuts and latkes, or potato pancakes, as part of the celebration to remember the historical miracle.
“The reason for eating certain foods is they’re all made of oil,” Goldstein said. “If you want to diet, you’ll want to wait after Hanukkah.”