The Jewish holiday of Chanukah (Hanukkah) is fast approaching, and due to the fact the Jewish holidays move around the Gregorian Calendar, most of Chanukah occurs before the end of the semester this year. It is unfortunate for students who celebrate Chanukah, as they will not be home for the holiday. However, there are plenty of upcoming events right here in Flagstaff where people can celebrate and have a good time.
“Chanukah is a very fun holiday,” says Rabbi Dovie Shapiro. “It’s probably the most popular holiday for many different reasons. It’s an easy way and a fun way to get involved with something Jewish. Lighting the menorah, dradles, doughnuts, latkes, what could go wrong?”
Shapiro is the Rabbi for Chabad at Northern Arizona University (NAU), the organization for Jewish students on campus and in the greater Flagstaff community. Chabad is organizing various events in the coming days to celebrate Chanukah.
The Chanukah Family Festival is done every year by Chabad of NAU and is one for the books. The event involves a full buffet dinner with the usual Chanukah cuisine such as latkes and doughnuts. There will also be a menorah lighting, candle making, sand art and a performance from the magician Jolly Roger. The festival will be on Dec. 9 from 4-6 p.m. at the Chabad Center located at 1254 W. University Ave; it is free for NAU students, $8 for general admission, and $30 per family.
For the first time this year, the festival will incorporate the city-wide Chanukah art contest. Any form of art can be submitted as long as it is Chanukah-themed. Those looking to participate must also know that all art must be present at the Chabad center by 4 p.m., Dec. 9. The judge’s panel for the contest will include special guests such as former Flagstaff mayor Sara Presler.
The festivities do not stop there. In honor of the mayor, a menorah lighting will be held at city hall on Dec. 10 from 5-6 p.m. This particular menorah is one of the largest in northern Arizona: it stands at six feet. There will be latkes, doughnuts and crafts at the lighting as well.
In attempt to tie Chanukah to Flagstaff, Chabad will also conduct a lighting at the Grand Canyon on Dec. 12 at 5 p.m.
With all the events and festivities, there is no doubt that Jewish students are getting excited for the celebration.
“I love Chanukah; it’s my favorite time of year,” says Jenna Wright, a freshman history secondary education major. “I just love the sense of community that it brings and how everybody is excited. Even my friends who don’t celebrate Chanukah, they’re like ‘Oh, it’s Christmas time.’ Christmas carols and snow and all these fun things. I just like how they [the holidays] fall at the same time, so it’s that peaceful happy time of year.”
Through events such as the menorah lighting and the festival, students can find comfort and enjoyment from celebrating away from home.
“You have to celebrate with your friends,” says Megan Blumenthal, a senior nursing major and president of Chabad at NAU. “It’s different, but it’s kind of nice though because you all bring your own traditions.”
All students are encouraged to attend the festivities, regardless of faith. It is a holiday of family and fun, and a common message.
“The message of Chanukah is a universal message,” Shapiro says. “Light over darkness; that ultimately good always prevails in the world, and all it takes is one good deed. Just like with the menorah we light one candle, and every night we only light one more.”
For more information about the events visit www.jewishflagstaff.com or call 123 456 7890.