Hanukkah Celebration Lights the Darkness
The Hanukkah celebration continued Monday night with the local Jewish community coming out to light the menorah at Penn State for the 13th consecutive year.
The celebration, which commemorates the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the second century BC, was filled with music, dancing and hot latkes. State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham was among those in attendance.
Goreham says the lighting of the menorah at Penn State helps spotlight the beauty of the Jewish religion and stamp out intolerance.
"Here at the lighting of the menorah we can experience the importance of faith and join together," Goreham said.
Prayers were led by organizer Rabbi Nosson Meretsky.
"In Jerusalem close to 2,000 years ago, the Jewish people lit a menorah in a courtyard. They lit it outside to illuminate the darkness," Meretsky says. "And that's really the point of Hanukkah – to light our darkest moments."
Meretsky also pointed out a dark moment the Penn State community felt when Betta Sigma Betta, a predominantly Jewish fraternity, was vandalized with spray paintings of swastikas and KKK graffiti. Beta Sigma Beta was the first site of the Penn State menorah lighting.
Meretsky says that while some think the best response to anti-Semitism would be to hide, the ideal course of action is to become more open. This year, president of Beta Sigma Beta Jordan Walden lit the first of the eight candles.
"When we have conviction and pride and strength, we are admired," Meretsky says.