A cheer erupted as the grandparents of Sima Shmuylovich ’21 entered Paul’s Room in Paresky Commons with a container full of latkes, a traditional Jewish delicacy cooked in oil. The room was filled with spinning dreidels, lit candles, a variety of Jewish treats, and party attendees, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
“For non-Jews, [I hope they can] learn a little bit more about the holiday and to see what it is and see what we do. And for those who are Jewish, I would hope it’s like a place where they can feel like they are celebrating their religion and their holiday, whether or not they are religious,” said Miley Kaufman ’19, one of the board members of Jewish Student Union (J.S.U.).
J.S.U.’s Hanukkah Party, held last Friday, included games, food, singing, candle lighting, and a small talk by Rabbi Swarttz about the importance of Hanukkah.
“It’s a holiday of light, similar to Christmas and Kwanzaa, at [a] time of darkness in the natural cycle of things. We create light to lighten things up, and at a time of political and social darkness, we also need light to make things better,” said Swarttz.
Several people named the latkes as their favorite part of the event.
“The latkes, they are like potato pancakes that are fried… it’s something that you don’t get to have so often. It’s a nice change of pace, and I think they cooked it for this club, for this meeting, which makes it all the more special,” said Jacob Buehler ’19.
This year, Hanukkah falls during a time when school is still in session, making it impossible for some members of the Jewish community at Andover to celebrate their holiday with their families. According to Kaufman, she hoped that the party would provide an opportunity for Jewish students to celebrate on campus.
Joshua Fry ’21, an attendee, said, “[My family] always celebrated Hanukkah… this was the first year where Hanukkah fell on a time when I was at [Andover], and I couldn’t spend it with my family. So I was kind of sad about that… but then when I saw this [party] I was super happy because I may not be religious but this is a holiday I celebrate, and it was a chance to experience that.”
In previous years, J.S.U. has held events in the Mural Room, but this year, it was held in Paul’s Room. According to Kaufman, the smaller size presented a challenge, but it worked out in the end.
“We have a lot more people this year than we ever really have before… I think it’s also nice we are in a smaller room because I think it kinda magnifies the amount of holiday spirit and festivities that are happening,” said Kaufman.
According to attendee Ethan Ellsweig ’21, the party served as a place where people could briefly leave the stress of school and come together as a community.
“My favorite part about this [party] would just be spending time with everyone celebrating Hanukkah since I’m not home and I can’t do that with my family, I did it with what family I have here, so other students. And it’s just a great time to get my mind off work and to spend time with some other people,” said Ellsweig.
Editor’s Note: Jacob Buehler is a Sports Editor for The Phillipian.