The University of Northern Colorado brought holiday cheer to campus with the return of its annual menorah lighting outside the University Center. The event on November 29 marked the second night of Hanukkah, and plenty of free food was enjoyed by all.
Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik from the Chabad Jewish Center of Northern Colorado headlined the event, and brought members of the community up to sing songs and light the candles.
Tobias Guzmán, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, opened the event, and spoke about the history of Hanukkah at UNC.
Guzmán was followed by Lynn Klyde-Allaman, associate professor of journalism at UNC. Klyde-Allaman referenced the history of Hanukkah around the world, and the importance of finding light in dark times.
“The letters that make up the Hebrew word for Hanukkah are the same letters that make up the word for education,” Klyde-Allaman said.
UNC President Andy Feinstein took the stage next, and discussed the ways his family celebrates Hanukkah. He recalled the foods his grandmother made to celebrate the holiday, including latkes, kugel and matzoh ball soup.
“For us, it is always a special time to bring family together, from multiple generations, and to enjoy each other’s company,” Feinstein said.
Feinstein, with the help of new vice president for student affairs Cedric Howard, lit the first candle. The tall menorah was sheltered from the wind by a backdrop bearing UNC’s logo, allowing Klyde-Allaman and a community member to light the next two candles.
After the three candles were lit, Rabbi Gorelik led the community in singing traditional Hanukkah songs like “I Have A Little Dreidel” and even Adam Sandler’s “Chanukkah Song.” Even the presenters joined in, dancing as the music played.
Rabbi Gorelik encouraged Jewish community members to come up to the front of the event to celebrate their heritage.
“If the president can be open about his Jewish identity, you can too. You might even get into the newspaper,” he said.
Community members were treated to free hot chocolate, latkes and gelt, and could take home 3D-printed dreidels. One audience member even won a raffle to bring home a new menorah.
Professor Klyde-Allaman was happy for the opportunity to speak at the menorah lighting, and said that events like these were a step forward for the Jewish community at UNC.
“It’s nice to have it at school, you know, to know that Jews are being embraced, not just accepted, but embraced,” she said.
Hanukkah in 2021 runs from November 28 until December 6. Rabbi Gorelik has led many Hanukkah events around Northern Colorado for the past several years, including menorah lightings in Greeley, Loveland and Fort Collins. Gorelik also serves as an instructor at Colorado State University.