Members of Hillel and Chabad gather on Nov. 29 to light the menorah for the second night of Hanukkah. (Maya Neumann/B&W Staff).

Jewish community gathers to celebrate Hanukkah


Students and the Jewish community came together to celebrate the second night of Hanukkah in front of Linderman Library on Nov. 29. 

Despite a challenge to light the candles, both the center candle known as the Shamash and two more to the right of it were lit to commemorate Hanukkah.

President Joseph J. Helble was the one to light the menorah, which ended up taking a few extra hands since it was difficult to reach the torches with the extendable lighter. 

Students from Hillel and Chabad gathered to celebrate the lighting of the menorah. 

After the lighting, donuts and warm latkes were available for students to grab while they socialized with one another and the rabbis.

Rabbi Zalman Greenberg said he was thrilled that this was a co-sponsored event with Hillel and Chabad and the turnout was fantastic. 

“I think today, unfortunately for students and for everyone we follow the news and everything that we hear out there is always negative so we get a very dark picture of the world,” he said. ”I think it’s particularly on Hanukkah where we’re talking about doing acts of goodness and kindness and we do it specifically at nighttime, cause we’re illuminating the night.”

Many students enjoyed the fact that Lehigh offered this religious event for them to have a chance to celebrate the holiday away from home. 

“I always miss my family when I was at school for Jewish holidays but I’m really lucky and I feel very grateful for the community at Lehigh because everyone gets together like this,” said Rachel Oppenheimer, ‘22, co-vice president of Chabad. “So it’s really nice.  It’s like a home away from home.” 

For many Jewish students, Hanukkah is about spending time with family, and events like this give them a chance to enjoy this aspect of it while at college. 

Josh Felgoise, ‘22, president of Chabad said he loves how Hanukkah is an eight day festival where you get to spend time with family.  

“Just being together celebrating eight nights, it’s great,” he said. “To me, it means family.”

Chabad and Hillel host numerous events like the menorah lighting that builds a strong Jewish community at Lehigh such as the Shabbat dinners at the Chabad building every Friday night on Wyandotte Street at 6 p.m. that the rabbi and his family host for students. 

Rabbi Steve Nathan, the director of Jewish student life, said Judaism is a communal based religion. He said Hillel also hosts Shabbat dinners weekly at the Jewish student center. 

He said this year, some students were able to be at home for the first night of Hanukkah depending on when they came back.  

“There’s something every night during Hanukkah,” Nathan said. “It’s just a time to come together as a community. I think that’s really important.”

This strong Jewish community is a draw for many students like Zoe Sherman, ‘25 when applying to Lehigh. 

She said the strong Jewish community is one of the biggest reasons she chose to come to Lehigh. 

“Where I’m from there aren’t that many other Jewish students at my high school,” Sherman said. “So it was really important for me to come to a college that had a strong Jewish presence and that feels like a safe, welcoming place.” 

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