Jewish community at Penn State to 'increase the light' this Hanukkah

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Students, administrators and others will gather for the lighting of a 12-foot menorah at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, on the steps of Old Main, in celebration of the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights.”

Hundreds of students are expected to attend the celebration of Hanukkah and Jewish pride that will feature lively music, dancing, prizes and traditional Hanukkah food, which include jelly donuts and fried potato latkes. Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost; Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs; and State College Borough Mayor-elect Don Hahn all will be participating in the event.

The raising of a menorah and the lighting ceremony are a response to the recent theft and vandalism of a 9-foot menorah displayed at the home of Rabbi Hershy Gourarie, co-director of Chabad for undergraduates at Penn State. The damaged Jewish symbol was found shortly afterward and four individuals have been charged in connection with the case. 

“We had to increase the light. The menorah is traditionally placed in a place viewable by the public in order to publicize the miracle, with its message of hope and religious freedom, to all,” Gourarie said. “Today, to people of all faiths, the Hanukkah holiday serves as a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness.”

According to Rabbi Nosson Meretsky, co-director of Chabad of Penn State, the menorah shares a universal message with the University at large.

“The eternal message of the menorah lights has attained particular significance in light of current world events where the forces of oppression and darkness are ever-present,” Meretsky said. “As we experience additional countries and entire regions being freed of their oppressors, we relive the experience of Hanukkah in our very own times. It is the story of a little light pushing away an empire of darkness, human sensibility defying terror and brute force, life and growth overcoming destruction.”

Menorahs will be raised at the Allen Street gates; the State College Borough Municipal Building; Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity; and the Gourarie home, according to Gourarie.

Additional activities surrounding Hanukkah will include a second public lighting in front of the State College Municipal Building on Sunday, Dec. 17, with an address by Mayor Hahn. On Dec. 12-14, Chabad will host tables in residence hall commons; from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on those days, students will have a chance to light their own menorahs.

Last Updated December 07, 2017