Hanukkah Night highlights Jewish culture

Music and laughter filled the MacVittie College Union lobby during Geneseo’s lively Hanukkah Night celebration.

Geneseo Late Knight and Hillel teamed up to put on their annual Hanukkah event on Dec. 1, which featured dreidels, crafts and an opportunity to socialize with friends. Hanukkah Night relocated to the union lobby this year because of construction on the College Green.

Hillel president senior Mel Ackley explained that Hanukkah Night is one of only two on-campus events going on this semester for the Jewish holiday. Because of when Hanukkah falls this year, the programming differs from years prior. 

“Hanukkah is later this year in December so it starts after most people have gone,” Ackley said. “Usually we do an event called ‘Hanukkah in the Halls’ where each night of Hanukkah we go to a different residence hall and we do the Hanukkah prayer, light the candles and hang out for a while.” 

Hanukkah is scheduled on a lunar calendar. Therefore, its timing changes dramatically in the Gregorian calendar over the course of a few years. 

The holiday’s 2017 timing is not conducive to “Hanukkah in the Halls,” according to Ackley. That doesn’t mean, however, that the festivities are canceled. In addition to Hanukkah Night, Hillel is having a cooking event at the Interfaith Center on Friday Dec. 8. 

“We’re having a small service and making matzo ball soup from scratch,” Ackley said. “Anyone’s welcome. Just show up, walk into the IFC and we’ll be in the kitchen hanging out.” 

Hanukkah Night and the cooking event are two opportunities for students on-campus to learn more about Jewish traditions. Anthropology major senior Darnisha Buckley described how being involved with GLK has allowed her to encounter different organizations on-campus. Events like Hanukkah Night provide great learning opportunities, according to Buckley.

“Putting on events and having different organizations come and work with us and meeting new people—I learn so much from different organizations,” Buckley said. “It’s just a remarkable experience.” 

Hanukkah Night is one of four GLK events this December. Hillel also hosts weekly events. 

“We do something every Friday,” Ackley said. “We do a weekly Shabbat service and dinner nearly every Friday.” 

Despite a small attendance at the Hanukkah Night event, Ackley described steady, strong attendance at Hillel’s weekly events, averaging about 15 people each week.

Hanukkah finishes this year on Dec. 20, after students have returned home to their families. Therefore, there will only be two Hanukkah programs. Next semester, however, there will be a new 15 weeks of activities and events hosted by Hillel, according to Ackley.u

 Neuroscience major junior Luke Bamburoksi, geological sciences major junior Udeshi Seneviratne and English education major junior Kelsey Kwandrans at Hillel’s annual Hanukkah Night on Friday Dec. 1. The event commemorated the Jewish holiday with games like dreidel and gave the opportunity to relax before finals. (Annalee Bainnson/photo editor)

Neuroscience major junior Luke Bamburoksi, geological sciences major junior Udeshi Seneviratne and English education major junior Kelsey Kwandrans at Hillel’s annual Hanukkah Night on Friday Dec. 1. The event commemorated the Jewish holiday with games like dreidel and gave the opportunity to relax before finals. (Annalee Bainnson/photo editor)