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IU Hillel celebrates Hanukkah with party, information about Birthright Israel trip


Freshman Sydney Auerbach uses a glue gun to attach pieces to her handmade menorah Dec. 3. She also took the opportunity to wear festive overalls and a headband to the Hanukkah party at the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center.  Alexis Oser Buy Photos

With paper Hanukkah menorahs, strewn across the room and a table to make one’s own, many people celebrated the second day of Hanukkah. Traditional Jewish food was served and music played from the speakers.

The Birthright Israel Chanukah party Monday evening was presented by the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center for Jewish Life to celebrate Hanukkah and inform Jewish students about their opportunity to go to Israel with the Birthright Israel trip. The party was full of food and Hanukkah-related games and crafts. 

Senior Clara Fridman said Hanukkah is a holiday that focuses on family, for Jewish people around the world.

Fridman said Hanukkah is a minor holiday in Judaism. Since it’s so close to Christmas, a lot of people associate the two.

“It’s more about appreciating the small things, the little miracles you don’t necessarily expect,” Fridman said. 

At the beginning of the event, the Hanukkah menorah is lit. Participants sang three blessings as the candles were lit. 

One blessing is for lighting the candle, the next is for praising God and his miracles, and the last is praising god for sustaining them. 

Freshman Haley Price said Hanukkah is special to her because of the importance placed on family and those around her.

“A lot of people call it the Jewish Christmas, but it’s a lot more than that,” Price said. “It reminds me of family and friends and food and the end of the year.”

Rabbi and IU Hillel executive director Sue Silberberg said the Birthright Israel trip is open to any student, ages 18 to 26, who identifies as Jewish and has at least one Jewish parent. It is an all-expenses paid trip to Israel to explore one’s culture and community. 

“The whole country of Israel is very special and holy to Jewish tradition, so it’s really an opportunity for students to connect to their Jewish identity and learn more about their country,” Silberberg said.

The opportunity to go to Israel means staying close to her faith and her culture, Price said. Not only does the trip help her appreciate her culture, it helps her appreciate her heritage more.

“It means staying in touch with my Judaism and going to the place where it all started,” Price said. 

Having gone to Israel once when she was a child, Price said the opportunity to go now would give her a chance to appreciate her heritage more deeply and understand what is happening around her. 

“Going to Israel soon, or even now, would mean that I can really understand the concepts and really understand what everything means, the buildings, the architecture, the people, the food, the religion,” Price said.

Price said she urges everyone who doesn’t celebrate Hanukkah to go to at least one celebration.

“Even if you celebrate one night, I really do think it can change someone and they can really see what we’re all about,” Price said.

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