Around this time of year, if you’re anything like me it’s easy to think “Christmas-Christmas-Christmas” as stores, radio stations, and Pinterest boards are flooded with Christmas sales, music, and decorations. While I love this spirit, it’s important for all collegiettes™ to remember that regardless of your religious affiliation, Christmas is not the only holiday this time of year. With this in mind, I set out to learn more about Bentley’s Jewish community and how they celebrate Hanukkah at Bentley.
The Bentley Hillelworks to build a Jewish community on campus in order to connect Jewish students with one another and provide a way for these students to practice their religion. Hillel hosts Shabbat dinners on Fridays, which combines Chinese food and an opportunity for students to observe their religion.
According to Hillel vice-president and future president Josh Sukkonik, “The Jewish holidays are generally based around the traditions that go with them, for instance, eating apples and honey to celebrate the sweet New Year. Many non-Jewish students around campus feel wary about joining in on the festivities, but once they do, they find it to be a rewarding and tasteful experience. For me, the most important part of being Jewish is upholding these traditions and building a friendly community.”
Hillel also provides a way for students to celebrate and observe Jewish holidays when students are away from home, such as busing students to Brandeis for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). Although these holidays often fall on weekdays, according to Josh, “The staff around Bentley is also very understanding if we have to miss class during a holiday.” Bentley supports Hillel through the work of Maria DiLorenzo, the spiritual life director.
Hillel isn’t the only Jewish organization on campus however — Bentley’s Alpha Epsilon Pi is a Jewish fraternity (though not all brothers are Jewish). Together, Hillel and AEPi host a Hanukkah Party which features traditional food like potato latkes, falafel, brisket, and jelly donuts. This event is open to non-Jewish students as well and includes activities like hanging decorations, lighting the Menorah, and playing Dreidel games.
So collegiettes™, no matter how you celebrate the holiday season, remember that it’s important to keep an open mind, and definitely consider attending one of Hillel’s events to learn more about the Jewish community at Bentley.