The seven-day Kwanzaa celebration of black culture and heritage comes to an end on Sunday as Hanukkah, the Jewish “festival of lights” starts at sundown. For both traditions, students are finding ways of making it special.

The minority peer advisers at nearly all of the residence halls organized a night for each of the seven principles of Kwanzaa starting last Monday with Umoja, or unity, and ending on Sunday with Imani, or faith.

Andrea Jenkins, an LSA freshman, is celebrating her first Kwanzaa at the University away from her family.

“It”s definitely more difficult because I”m separate from my family. I have to call home a lot and I put up (Kwanzaa) decorations on my door,” Jenkins said.

Not being with family is enough to hamper the holiday tradition for Jermaine Bridges, an Engineering junior who recognizes the importance of Kwanzaa, but will not be celebrating.

“I”m not home and with my family, and for me, it”s more of a family tradition. It”s about celebrating unity and heritage,” Bridges said.

Hillel is planning many activities for Jewish students celebrating Hanukkah away from home, including menorah lighting in the residence hall lounges over the eight-day holiday, as well as a Hanukkah party on Sunday for undergraduates and on Tuesday for graduate students.

“My friends and I come together for a few minutes each of the nights to light the menorah,” said Jenna Goldenberg, an LSA senior who also organized a forum and party for Jewish women in order to talk about the importance of Hanukkah to them.

LSA sophomore Wendy Musicer said although she will be celebrating Hanukkah with her roommates, making latkes with her family will be missed.

“They have them at the Hanukkah parties, but the fun part is making them,” Musicer said.

Aside from being away from family, the violence in Israel may put a damper on the holiday, but Rabbi Aharon Goldstein thinks it is especially important to celebrate Hanukkah this year.

“Now is even more reason to celebrate Hanukkah by bringing in light. The more light we bring in will help to dissipate negative forces,” Goldstein said.

“Surrounding myself with other Jewish members of the university community makes Hanukkah more special. When I go home I can celebrate more even though it”s over,” said Rob Chesnick, an LSA sophomore.

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