Chabad of Penn State held its annual lighting of the menorah ceremony to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah at Old Main on Tuesday, but this year’s event had a little extra meaning.
About 200 people gathered on the blustery and cold evening to celebrate the Jewish holiday by lighting the menorah, followed by singing, dancing and eating traditional Hanukkah food such as latkes.
Rabbi Hershy Gourarie emceed the celebration and welcomed Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones to pass the torch used to light the menorah.
After successfully battling the wind, the flame of the torch light the Shamash, or servant light, followed by the torch that signifies the first day of the Hanukkah.
The celebration comes just more than one month after the menorah outside of Gouraire’s home was stolen and later left severely damaged at the Sigma Alpha Mu Jewish fraternity. The incident led to four Penn State students being charged with theft and vandalism.
“That was a moment of darkness,” Gouraire said. “However, our response is to double our efforts and commitment to keep on adding light to the world.”
In addition to the menorah that was lit on the steps of old main, Chabad of Penn State will also place one at the State College Municipal Building and Sigma Alpha Mu. The vandalized menorah has been repaired and will be lit at Gouraire’s home for the holiday.
“Look at the crowd here today on a weeknight during finals week,” Gouraire said. “This is the true spirit of Penn State, this is the true spirit of Happy Valley and together we can make this the true spirit of the entire world.”
Chabad of Penn State will hold another lighting event at 5 p.m. on Dec. 17 at the State College Municipal Building.