Starting on the evening of Dec. 7, Swarthmore’s Jewish community celebrated the festival of Hanukkah for eight days and eight nights. Kehilah and Chabad, two Swarthmore Jewish student groups, both held events and festivities for Jewish students on campus.
Kehilah hosted celebrations on every night of Hanukkah, including menorah lightings, a party in the Intercultural Center, and a takeover of Crumb Cafe, which included foods such as latkes and sufganiyot.
“We had a latkes and sufganiyot cooking event Friday afternoon. Just a lot of fun. And then that Saturday we had a Hanukkah celebration with dreidels, latkes, sufganiyot and Hanukkah music,” Kehilah co-President Maayan Falk-Judson ’26 said. “On Sunday we had a Crumb takeover. More latkes and sufganiyot. It was a weekend full of a lot of latkes. And then we’ve also been doing candle-lighting each night.”
As a participant in all of these events, Falk-Judson felt that the atmosphere was very enjoyable.
“I really enjoyed them. It felt really nice just being around people celebrating Hanukkah college,” Falk-Judson continued. “Last year, Hanukkah fell over winter break so I haven’t done this before to connect with friends.”
Falk-Judson especially enjoyed the celebration in the Intercultural Center, and she found that it offered the most complete Hanukkah experience.
“I feel like it encapsulated all of the different parts of Hanukkah rather than just food or cooking. Just the Hanukkah spirit,” she said.
On the first night of Hanukkah, Chabad hosted a menorah lighting event for students in Kohlberg Hall. Swarthmore Chabad also hosted a Hanukkah Bash on the eighth night of Hanukkah and placed menorahs in the Dining Center so that Jewish students could light their own.
According to Rabbi Mordi Wolf, the goal of the events was to create a space for celebration for the entire Swarthmore Jewish community.
“[We worked] together with our Chabad student board and [planned] the program and the vision of what we wanted to happen,” Wolf said. “And then for all pieces into place, by means of advertising and reaching out to the entire campus community and inviting them ensuring that there’ll be a unifying, uplifting Hanukkah holiday celebration.”
Wolf began working at Swarthmore’s Chabad in February, and he said this year was the first time his family has celebrated Hanukkah at Swarthmore.
“It’s our first time. This our first really on-campus program. Our first Hanukkah here at Swarthmore,” Wolf continued. “It was very exciting.”
Wolf believes that the candle lighting and subsequent celebration were very successful in creating a positive atmosphere.
“[It was] beyond what we expected. That’s the honest truth. Beyond both in the amount of people that participated… in the reception and the energy in the room for people,” Wolf said. “People really found it very uplifting and very memorable and very unifying… in a much greater way than we imagined.”
According to Chesapeake Weinfeld ’27, who attended the Chabad candle lighting, Hanukkah events have been very nice, especially during the finals season.
“We don’t do a lot for Hanukkah at home, so it’s actually been kind of more fun [to celebrate] here than at home,” Weinfeld said. “Hanukkah is a very festive holiday, and I think it is nice during finals to have something festive and fun to look forward to every night like lighting the candles. So it’s been a nice break from studying.”
Wolf mentioned the importance of the message behind Hanukkah. For him, Hanukkah is about finding the light, even in the face of darkness. “I think one of the big messages of Hanukkah is that the light of the menorah and the lights that we bring to the world, the positivity that we bring to the world, the kindness we bring to the world, [and] the love that we bring to the world dispels and outshines darkness,” Wolf said. “Share a smile, share a light, share love. And [when] we do that, the world is a much happier, better, [and] safer place.”