On-Air (813) 974-9285
Office (813) 974-4906
Chabad at USF celebrated the third day of Hanukkah with a grand menorah lighting outside the Marshall Student Center on Monday, providing a place for students to celebrate the holiday and to take a break from studying.
Latkes (potato pancakes), jelly doughnuts, driedels, gelt (chocolate coins) and Monster energy drinks covered two tables decorated with white and blue balloons. Hanukkah-themed remixes to popular songs such as Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” played in the background, competing with guest’s chatter.
The centerpiece of the celebration, a giant 9-foot-tall menorah, required a ladder to light. The lighting of the menorah, according to Chabad.org, represents the story of the miracle of Hanukkah, in which a one-day supply of oil miraculously burned for eight days.
Before lighting the menorah, CEO of USF Health Stephen Klasko and Rabbi Pinny Backman gave speeches. Klasko joked about the plight of USF’s football team.
“For those of you who don’t light menorahs, this is the holiday of the miracle,” Klasko said. “It was a miracle last year because we could hardly get the menorah to light. We’ve got a beautiful night, and it’s also kind of a miracle because USF has hired a new football coach.”
Backman delivered an inspirational message.
“Something really unique about fire and Hanukkah is that fire, whatever shape you put it in, is always going to go up,” Backman said. “Everything else goes downward, or side to side. Fire always goes up. Even if you turn a candle upside down, fire is still going to go upward, and that’s really the theme of Hanukkah. You’ve always got to strive to go up, even if someone turns you upside down.”
Backman said a short prayer and Klasko lit the first candle, which resulted in applause. After Klasko lit all three candles, the group was dismissed to eat and socialize.
Sophomore Alexa Blackman, vice president of Chabad at USF, said that the lighting of the menorah is a way for students to spend time together.
“It’s about having people to spend the holiday with,” Blackman said. “Everyone is really warm and open and comforting and it’s a nice way to get together.”
Greg Pekowitz, senior international studies major, went to the event last year and returned to celebrate again this year.
“It’s a nice little study break,” Pekowitz said. “It’s a good time.”