Virginia Tech Jewish community gathers for first night of Hanukkah, Menorah lighting

BLACKSBURG, Va.Chabad at Virginia Tech sponsored a Grand Menorah Lighting to celebrate the first night of Chanukah, or Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is the Jewish eight-day “festival of lights,” celebrated with a Menorah lighting, special prayers, and fried foods each night, according to the Librescu Jewish Student Center.

On Thursday at sunset, the Jewish Community at Virginia Tech gathered around to light the first candle of Hanukkah. This year’s celebration comes with the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. The war has also sparked an increase in antisemitism attacks in the United States.

Melissa Nacheman, a junior at Virginia Tech, believes the Hanukkah holiday couldn’t have come at a better time.

“That doesn’t diminish anything else we’re feeling. It doesn’t diminish what’s going on. I think it’s actually very helpful for people to feel a sense of joy especially now,” Nacheman said.

Hamas attacked Israel back on Oct. 7. Ever since that day, the Jewish community has grown stronger together.

The celebration of finding light in the darkness feels somber yet defiant this year.

“There’s a deeper feeling of importance this year just because it is a holiday that celebrates the Jewish people persevering like many of our holidays. Our perseverance and strength is really important right now,” Nacheman said.

Some groups are choosing to hide their Menorahs this year out of fear. Zvi Zwiebel, a local rabbi in Blacksburg, made sure the celebration continued near the Virginia Tech drill field.

“Most holidays we celebrate with our families inside. Hanukkah, we take the Menorah outdoors. We aluminite the darkness outside. Spreading this light, yes we live in a dark world but that little bit of light can expel much darkness,” Zwiebel said.

This year, Hanukkah begins on Dec. 7 and continues through Dec. 15.

You can read more about Hanukkah, including common customs, how to light the Menorah, and why the holiday is celebrated by clicking here.

About the Authors

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.

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