Hobart and William Smith Colleges - A Virtual Festival of Lights for Hanukkah 2020
The HWS Update
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A Virtual Festival of Lights for Hanukkah 2020

HWS students and alums will connect virtually to celebrate Hanukkah through a series of online events hosted by the Abbe Center for Jewish Life.

A series of virtual events will give Hobart and William Smith students and alums the chance to celebrate Hanukkah together beginning this weekend. Hanukkah started on the evening of Dec. 10 and ends at sundown on Dec. 18.

The first opportunity for students to gather will be in the weekly “Shabbat Together” Zoom, held on Friday, Dec. 11, when students are invited to light Hanukkah candles in addition to the usual Shabbat rituals. “We’ll use some of the time to talk about the different teachings of the holiday and how they connect to our students’ lives, both as college students and students during the pandemic,” says Director of the Abbe Center for Jewish Life and Hillel Adviser Julianne Miller.

On Sunday, Dec. 13, a Zoom Hanukkah Celebration will include lighting candles, sharing favorite Hanukkah songs and traditions, and playing Hanukkah games. Miller notes that Hanukkah and finals’ care packages were also sent to many students, featuring snacks for Reading Days, a “stress ball,” Hanukkah candles, dreidels, Hanukkah gelt and information about the holiday and its rituals.

A Zoom Hanukkah Candle Lighting event, co-sponsored by the Office for Alumni and Alumnae Relations, will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. for young alums from the Classes of 2005-2020. Participants will be invited to light candles, say the blessings together and talk about how the Jewish community on campus is adapting to the pandemic. Miller notes that most of the event will consist of catching up with friends — including former Abbe Center Director Lorinda Weinstock P’01, who will be in attendance. Weinstock retired in 2014. “We’re hoping it will be a ‘mini-reunion’ of friends who remember gathering over Shabbat dinners, Hanukkah Fried Food Fests and other Hillel events,” Miller says.

Hanukkah is not the first major holiday to look different this year because of COVID-19 restrictions. HWS Hillel held a Zoom seder for Passover in early April, and celebrated both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the early fall with a mix of distanced in-person and virtual events. “Since we have no choice but to celebrate over Zoom, we’re leaning into it and taking the opportunity to bring friends together across the miles,” says Miller.

For more information and to register for the events, contact Miller at jhmiller@hws.edu.