Hillel hosts annual Chanukah celebration

By Ashley Harris
Public Affairs Specialist

(Nov. 26, 2007)--Hillel, a UTSA Jewish student-faculty organization, will host the annual Chanukah holiday celebration, "Jazzing Up Chanukah" from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 28 in the Biosciences Building Loeffler Room (3.03.02) on the 1604 Campus. The event is free and open to all.

The UTSA Jazz Combo will perform at the event and festivities will include music, traditional foods, holiday songs and door prizes. Rabbi Yaacov Cohen of the Torah Learning Center in San Antonio will present "How To Celebrate Chanukah" which will include historical information on Chanukah and the celebration's significance today.

Hillel, currently celebrating its 20th year at UTSA, is an international organization on campuses throughout world including the United States, Russia, South America, Mexico, Europe and Canada.

For more information, call (210) 458-2672.


Chanukah traditions

Chanukah (or Hanukkah) is celebrated for eight days and nights, starting on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar (November-December on the Gregorian calendar). In Hebrew, Hanukkah means dedication. On each night of Chanukah, the menorah is lit to commemorate a miracle, which occurred after the Jews proclaimed victory over the Syrian armies in 165 B.C.E.

When Jews (the Maccabbees) came to rededicate the temple, which had been defiled by the Syrians, they found only one small flask of oil with which to light the menorah, a candelabra used for worship. The flask contained enough oil for one day, yet the lamp burned for eight days, which allowed time to find a new supply of oil. Today, Jews celebrate Chanukah for eight days by lighting candles in a menorah every night to commemorate the eight-day miracle.

Dreidel: The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter inscribed on each side. The letters stand for a miracle that occurred. Each player receives a given number of coins or candy pieces. Before spinning the dreidel, each player puts a fixed proportion of the amount received into the kupah or kitty. Each player in turn spins the dreidel. When the dreidel falls, it will fall on one of the four letters. According to the letter, the following will happen: no win/no lose, take all from the kitty, take half from the kitty or lose what you deposited.

Latkes: The most popular theme in Chanukah dishes is the use of oil, a reminder of the oil at the temple that burned eight days instead of one. Latkes are potato pancakes made from grated potatoes mixed with eggs, onions and flour, then fried in vegetable oil. The texture is crispy on the outside and tender inside. They are served hot and often are dipped in apple sauce or sour cream. The Maccabbee soldiers ate latkes made from cheese, vegetables or fruits which were brought to them on the battlefields. However, they didn't eat potato latkes, since potatoes weren't available until the 16th century.

Chanukah information courtesy of

Menorah photo courtesy of

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