Lighting the menorah was just one of the ways Chabad is helping Elon students celebrate the Festival of Chanukah this year.
In what has become an annual tradition, students at Elon have again come together to celebrate the Festival of Chanukah at Chabad, which planned and hosted several events commemorating this special holiday. Chabad also provided students with the necessary supplies to celebrate the occasion in their own homes.
Approximately 70 students came together on the second night of Chanukah for the public lighting of the giant Phoenix Menorah. The previous large Menorah standing outside the Jewish Center was vandalized in an antisemitic attack in May 2020. In response, a taller, heavier, and far nicer maroon-and-gold Phoenix Menorah was built on the site and kindled this year at the public ceremony.
In many ways, this was a vindication for the Jewish community, responding to hate with light and Jewish pride, said Rabbi Mendy Minkowitz. “Lighting our beautiful Phoenix Menorah sent chills down my back, what a triumph of light over darkness,” Minkowitz said. “It’s the only way we know how to respond — we make more light.”
The ceremony was followed by a party on Chabad’s large outdoor deck with music and delicious food, including the traditional potato latkes, donuts, hot chocolate and the star attraction, oven-baked personal pizzas prepared by a chef.
“This year’s grand Chanukah celebration had a great turnout, getting to see so many people of all different backgrounds come together and celebrate over some great food definitely reflected the spirit of Chanukah,” said Sadie Silverman Guffey ‘24. “I love attending Chabad events because I get to meet new people and say hello to those I already know; this event was no different. I ran into people I did not even know were coming and I got to meet so many new friends. I also just have to mention how delicious those homemade donuts were. Thank you to Rivka and everyone who made this happen!”
Throughout the eight-day holiday Chabad distributed menorah kits to students on campus and abroad, as well as alumni all around the world. About 100 menorah kits were delivered right to students’ doors. The kits included a menorah, candles, a dreidel and the blessings recited over the menorah.
Emily Sherr ‘24 received a menorah from Chabad. “When I received the menorah I felt a sense of community,” she said. “It was amazing that there is such a community of Jewish students here and it made me feel very special.
“I think it’s amazing that they had menorahs to give out because for a lot of people including myself it’s my first Hanukkah away from home, and it made Hanukkah very special for me,” she said. “I was still able to light the candles of a real menorah while away from my family.”
At the annual Festival of Lights and Luminaries, the organization had a table distributing Chanukah goodies and informational material teaching those interested in the holiday and its universal message of light and freedom. Further, they erected a public 9-foot menorah display right in the center of the town of Elon, which is visible to the thousands of cars and pedestrians traveling past it each day, reminding them of the holiday.
Minkowitz also expressed how satisfied he was with the events that took place. “The Jewish pride and excitement of the students continue to blow me away,” he said. “They showed up in droves, making sure that they could celebrate this important Jewish holiday. Even with finals and everything going on this week, they still showed up. Wow!”
Chabad continues to provide an inclusive environment for students to attend during the holidays, making it feel like their home away from home.