As people across Miami University’s campus are preparing for finals week and making plans to travel home for winter break, Jewish students are balancing those last projects and exams with preparations of a different kind to celebrate Hanukkah.
Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday that lasts eight days and nights, falls at a different place on the calendar each year between late November and mid-December. Last year, the holiday ran Dec. 18-26, and students were off-campus for the entirety of the festivities. This year, the holiday stretches Dec. 7-15, the last day of finals at Miami.
For Eric Glassman, a junior finance major and president of Miami’s branch of Hillel, the holiday is a celebratory time. Hillel has weekly Shabbat dinners on Fridays, and he said the Dec. 8 Shabbat will be especially lively because of Hanukkah. Beyond that and nightly menorah lighting, though, he said the programming is relatively laid-back because of how the holiday conflicts with the academic calendar this year.
“It’s going to be a lot more quiet as far as our Hanukkah programming goes,” Glassman said. “We’re going to do menorah lightings … but just because of the timing, it’s not going to be too hectic this year.”
Chabad, another Jewish organization on campus, has events planned for each night of the holiday. Rabbi Yossi Greenberg said that because of when Hanukkah falls this year, he hopes students are able to make it home to spend a night or two with their families before the eight days of celebration end.
“We’re happy for students to go home at least for a few days so they can spend at least one or two nights with their families,” Greenberg said. “It’s nice because it’s eight nights, so they could celebrate some of it here on campus and then hopefully, if they’re done with finals, go home and celebrate with their families, as well.”
The last two times Hanukkah has started while students were on campus, Chabad has celebrated by lighting an ice menorah at The Seal. The organization will continue this tradition with a grand menorah lighting at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 7. Other events will include a latke eating competition, menorah lighting in designated residence halls and more.
This year, Hanukkah comes after two months of the Israel-Hamas War. As Jewish people navigate the continuing crisis, Greenberg and Glassman both said it’s important to have a holiday to celebrate separate from the war.
“It’s been hard to navigate being Jewish in college during the war and after the attacks,” Glassman said. “I don’t want to call it a distraction, but having something that is a complete mood shift from what’s been going on I think is going to be helpful to me. I know a lot of other students have been feeling scared or anxious or angry and sad, so having something that’s joyous is going to be, I think, a nice change of pace for everybody.”
Where to participate in menorah lighting ceremonies
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
Several dorms across campus have been designated for nightly menorah lighting in the lobby, in addition to off-campus locations. Students are not permitted to light candles in their dorm rooms but can gather at any of the locations below to take part in the celebration each night.
The Seal (Academic Quad): 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7 only
Marcum Hall (North Quad): 6:30 p.m. each night, 5 p.m. on Friday
Scott Hall (Central Quad): 6:30 p.m. each night, 5 p.m. on Friday
Dennison Hall (East Quad): 6:30 p.m. each night, 5 p.m. on Friday
Clawson Hall (Western Campus): 6:30 p.m. each night, 5 p.m. on Friday