Jewish community welcomes all to menorah lighting


menorah-lighting2.gifNothing expresses the joy of religious freedom like the celebration of Hanukkah. I’m so pleased that our Jewish community on campus chose to invite the entire Bradley family to their first Grand Menorah lighting ceremony. The observance was held Thursday, on the second day of Hanukkah, in the Student Center.

President Joanne Glasser, Vice President of Student Affairs Alan Galsky, and Associate Vice President of University Communications Shelley Epstein participated in the ceremony, with President Glasser lighting the shamosh, the candle that kindles the Hanukkah candles. David Israel, a sophomore sports communication major from Skokie, then lit two candles on the six-foot menorah to represent the second day of the observance. I appreciated the energy and enthusiasm of Rabbi Eli Langsam, who encouraged students to “light up your lamp, your Jewish identity.”

I was active in the Universalist Church, but I was aware of the Jewish observance of Hanukkah. Known as the Festival of Lights, this eight-day observance commemorates the victory of the Jewish people over the Syrian Greeks more than 2,100 years ago. The Syrian Greeks had overrun ancient Israel and tried to force the Jews to accept a different religion.

A small band of Jews defeated the mighty army and reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem. When they went to light the Temple’s menorah, they found most of the oil had been defiled. Only a small container with a one-day supply of oil remained untainted. They lit the menorah and miraculously the oil burned for eight days, until new, pure olive oil could be prepared.

What a beautiful story of faithfulness and spirituality! It’s one people of all religious backgrounds can cherish. I’m proud to have founded a University where people of all faiths can exercise their religious beliefs.