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Bristol University students gather for Hanukkah celebration

Communal celebration of Hanukkah marks the beginning of festive season in style.

By Milan PereraDeputy Editor

University of Bristol Jewish students and well-wishers have gathered for a Hanukkah celebration outside Senate House on Thursday, December 7.

 The celebration included Grand Menorah lighting, speeches, music, hot drinks and seasonal delicacies. The event was hosted by Rabbi Mendy and Chaya Singer from Chabad Bristol

 The opening of the celebrations was marked with the lighting of a Grand Menorah placed between Senate House and Sports Centre on Tyndall Avenue.

One of the most visible symbols of Hanukkah is the adapted nine-branched menorah known as a hanukkiah, consisting of eight peripheral candle holders - one for each night, plus the shamash or helper candle.

 The event was attended by Professor Evelyn Welch, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bristol and several local dignitaries. Among those who attended the event were Councillor Carla Denyer, Co-leader of the Green Party, Mary Page, former mayoral candidate and Nassem Taludkar, Green Party MP candidate for Bristol East.

 Rabbi Singer talked about how the Jewish community is faring during ‘this worrying time of increased antisemitism’. He welcomed the opportunity to meet some of the Jewish students and hear about their experience in Bristol.

 Hanukkah is a moving feast as it follows the Jewish lunar calendar as opposed to the Gregorian calendar. It normally falls between the end of November and the beginning of December, with celebrations held for eight days. This year’s Hanukkah will be observed between December 7 and December 15.

Rendering of traditional tunes to enhance the celebrations - Shiri Kleinberg

 The festival's origins go back to the second century BCE, when a group of Jewish warriors called the Maccabees defeated the Seleucid armies as mentioned in the Apocrypha. It also commemorates the Miracle of Hanukkah, where a quantity of oil that was supposed to last for one day lasted eight days, thus inspiring the holiday's duration.

 Shiri Kleinberg, the former President of University of Bristol Jewish Society (JSoc) who was present at the event told Epigram: ‘It was a really lovely atmosphere. Everyone enjoyed eating traditional Chanukah food (doughnuts and latkes) and the band played beautifully as the candles were lit. It’s traditional for us to light a Chanukkiah out in public or in the windows of our homes to share the light of the festival and celebrate proudly. So it felt so great being able to do that on Tyndall Avenue.’

 The communal celebration was fuelled by an array of festive favourites, such as bagels, wraps, jam doughnuts and potato latkes. The latter has a symbolic importance due to its oily texture, a reference to the Miracle of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah celebrations include menorah lighting, seasonal food and games - Milan Perera

 The festive atmosphere was enhanced with the live music played by the university students which included some popular traditional tunes such as Hava Nagila.

 Chabad Bristol has also organised a public Grand Menorah lighting on Sunday on College Green at 4.00pm which is expected to bring together the Jewish community and the well wishers of the city.

Featured image: Shiri Kleinberg

Are you staying in Bristol during winter vacation? Check out university website for services and support available during the holiday period.