A festival of lights, and eight crazy nights

When Adam Sandler's famous Hanukkah songs begin to fill the radio airways, students can be sure that the Festival of Lights has begun.

For Jewish students at the University, Hanukkah represents a time of spirituality, reflection and celebration.

Hanukkah began last Friday, and students will light the last candle on their menorahs at the end of this week.

Around 200 B.C., after driving away the Greek soldiers who had taken over their city, the Maccabees wanted to rededicate their temple. They were only able to find enough oil for one day, but miraculously, the oil lasted eight days, according to ancient Hebrew scripture.

The eight candles on the menorah represent the eight days that oil burned in the temple. Today, Jewish observers of the holiday light an additional candle on their menorahs every night, until all of the candles are lit.

In celebration of the holiday, the Greater Hillel Council is sponsoring events every night this week.

"A lot of the time, Hanukkah falls when people are home for break," said second-year College student Rebecca Klimpl, treasurer of the Greater Hillel Council. "Or last year it fell over exam week. This year is a good year for programming for Hillel because everybody is here."

Last night, students and members of the Charlottesville community came together at 5 p.m. on the Downtown Mall as the mayor of Charlottesville lit a 9-foot menorah. The celebration also included singing, dancing and food.

The festivities continue today at 4 p.m. in Garden I, with students coming together to light the fifth candle on the same nine-foot menorah that adorned the Downtown Mall yesterday.

Tomorrow night, there will be a "bring-your-own-menorah" lighting on the steps of the Rotunda, Klimpl said.

"A lot of students have menorahs from home that their parents have given them to bring to school," Klimpl said. "A lot of students have been given menorahs from their temples."

The Rotunda gathering also will serve students who live in dorms, where lighting candles is prohibited.

Thursday, students are invited to 50 East Lawn for the lighting of the seventh candle at 7 p.m., Klimpl said.

"Then we're going to be there for the Lighting of the Lawn ceremony, which is sort of nice because Hanukkah is a festival of lights," she added.

Through Thursday, there also will be a table set up outside of Newcomb dining hall, where students can make their own edible dreidels out of marshmallows, pretzel sticks, peanut butter and Hershey kisses.

At 6 p.m. on Friday there will be a menorah lighting at Hillel before Shabbat services begin -- a festive finale for the last of what Adam Sandler refers to as Hanukkah's "eight crazy nights."

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