‘Tis the season for dreidel

Monica Sanders

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More than halfway through the festival of lights, Jewish students and staff at UK show no signs of stopping the celebration.

“Though Hanukkah means ‘festival of lights,’ I like to see it as a chance to get together with friends and family and win a game of Dreidel,” said Alex Rosenzweig, a mechanical engineering sophomore and Jewish studies and physics minor.

Playing dreidel, which is a game of chance involving a top covered with symbols, is one of the many ways Jewish students at UK celebrate Hanukkah.

The Hillel organization for Jewish students has had multiple gatherings for the holiday and celebrates with gelt, or chocolate coins, gathering in groups and the traditional lighting of the menorah.

Rosenzweig is a member of the Hillel organization and described it as a fun experience.

To celebrate Hanukkah while he’s away from home, Rosenzweig has a battery-operated menorah or candelabra he turns on and Facetimes his parents to rejoice with them also.

“For me, when I was little, Hanukkah was time to hang with my family, make latkes, play dreidel, light the menorah, and get presents,: said Katie Segal, a business management and Jewish studies freshman. “Well, presents weren’t such a big thing, but it was nice.”

Karen Petrone, professor of history, gender and women’s studies, Jewish studies, and former adviser of Hillel, explained the tradition behind Hanukkah.

“Hanukkah commemorates the time when the Jewish religion was under attack. In this process, the Jewish temple was destroyed, and when they rededicated the temple the oil that was predicted to last one night, lasted for eight nights,” Petrone said. “So that is why Hanukkah has eight days. Traditionally, you would light a candle for every night until all eight are lit.”

Because the holiday is about oil, many traditional meals, like jelly donuts or latkes, which are potato pancakes, are fried. Petrone also said there are several traditional songs and hymns, like one called “Rock of Ages.”

“I feel like being Jewish here at UK sets me apart and makes me unique. When I was searching for a roommate, I put a disclaimer in my messages letting them know I was Jewish,” Segal said. “Though I have never faced any hostility, I am still cautious.”

Segal and Rosenzweig received the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence scholarship. The scholarship aids them to be able to minor in Jewish Studies. UK is introducing a new Hebrew class taught by Daniel Frese.

“The Jewish community is a small but vibrant part of community here at UK”, Petrone said.“The Jewish community at UK is growing and I feel that it is important to emphasize diversity and help (Jewish) students feel welcome.”

The Hillel hosts Shabbat, and evening of fellowship, food and prayer, about twice a month. As well, the organization hosts a “Break the Fast” after Yom Kippur, a day of fasting in the early fall. Hillel also had dinner for

Rosh Hashanah which traditionally includes eating apples and honey. During K Week there was a cookout held for Jewish student. President Eli Capilouto even invited the Jewish over for reception for the Jewish New Year.