Colorado State students will celebrate Hanukkah with traditional activities hosted by Hillel, a Jewish student organization, Dec. 3-10.
"Part of Hillel’s function is to be a family away from home for Colorado State students," said Hedy Berman, director of Hillel at Colorado State. "Hanukkah is not one of the major Jewish celebrations, but proximity to Christmas has increased awareness of the holiday. In fact, many non-Jewish people don’t know of any other Jewish holidays. All students are welcome to attend the Hanukkah festivities, whether to celebrate a familiar holiday or to learn more about an unfamiliar Jewish tradition."
In America, Christian holidays are widely celebrated, while other religious holidays, particularly in December, are often overshadowed by Christmas. Hanukkah is an unusual celebration because it is the only Jewish holiday centered around a war. Hanukkah celebrates the 165 B.C. rededication of the Jewish temple following a victorious battle over the Syrians. Hanukkah recognizes the Jewish soldiers’ recapture and reconsecration of their temple. According to Hanukkah legend, when the Jews relit the light in the temple, there was only enough oil to burn for one day. The miracle of Hanukkah occurred when a messenger was sent to retrieve more oil, and returning eight days later, the messenger found the light still burning.
Hanukkah festivities begin Dec. 3, the first day of Hanukkah, with a gathering of students from Colorado State, the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. The event will begin at 6 p.m. at the CU Hillel House at 2795 Colorado Avenue in Boulder.
The following week, Colorado State Hillel will host nightly student gatherings to light the Menorah, a candleholder that symbolizes the eight days of Hanukkah. Lighting of the Menorah will take place from 6-6:30 p.m. at the following locations: Dec. 6 at Braiden Hall, Dec. 7 at Corbett Hall, Dec. 8 at Edwards Hall and Dec. 9 at the Towers.
On Dec. 9, following the Menorah lighting, students will gather for an educational program at DC Bottoms in the Durrell Center from 6:30-7:30 p.m. The program will include a talk by Berman as well as a student panel that will discuss what it is like to be Jewish at Colorado State. Refreshments will be served.
On Dec. 10, the final night of Hanukkah, Hillel will host a party that will feature traditional festivities, including playing dreidel, a traditional spinning top game, and enjoying potato latkes, fried potato pancakes which symbolize the miracle of the oil. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Lake Sherwood Clubhouse at 2700 Silver Creek Drive in Fort Collins.
The party also will include a gift exchange, which is a newer Hanukkah tradition. "The celebration of Hanukkah in the midst of the Christmas season has resulted in evolving traditions," Berman said. "Giving gifts is an example of the Americanization of Hanukkah. It is done largely so Jewish children do not feel left out around Christmas time. Even in Israel, Jews do not exchange gifts."
Throughout Hanukkah, the cafeterias in the Colorado State residence halls will offer potato latkes. The latkes will be accompanied by tabletop fliers explaining the origin of Hanukkah traditions.
For more information about Colorado State’s student Hanukkah activities or about Hillel organization, contact Hillel at Colorado State at (970) 491-2080.