Press "Enter" to skip to content

Augustana celebrates the miracle of Hanukkah

The miracle of life, existence, and perseverance is the miracle of Hanukkah. This is the message that spread through the Hanukkah party held this Sunday, December 10 by Augustana’s Hillel chapter.
First-year Julian Pacheco has been working to revive the Hillel chapter on Augustana’s campus. In doing so, he was at the head of the planning for the Hanukkah party that took place on Sunday. Pachecho and Rabbi Jeffrey Lipschultz helped explain what Hanukkah truly celebrates.
According to Pacheco, Hanukkah is a celebration of the one day’s worth of oil that burned for eight days and eight nights after the Greeks destroyed the Jewish temple. But those in attendance at Sunday’s celebration learned that it means much more than that.
“The real miracle isn’t the oil, it’s us,” Rabbi Lipschultz said. He believes that the miracle is that “we are here,” Lipschultz said.
To Pacheco, Hanukkah is about celebrating all that the Jewish people have persevered through over the years. “I am proud to be Jewish,” Pacheco said.
During the eight nights of Hanukkah, Jewish families light a candle of the Menorah each night, according to Rabbi Lipschultz.
“One of the beautiful things about Hanukkah is that you add one candle every night,” said Rabbi Josh Tannenbaum, another local Rabbi in attendance. According to Tannenbaum, each candle is another level closer in “our relationship to god.”
The Hanukkah party at Augustana was about more than celebrating the miracle of the oil and life, it was about facilitating friendships and understanding. According to Dr. Janina Ehrlich, Chair of the Center for the study of Judaism and Jewish Culture at Augustana, an interconnectedness between groups is important. Toleration is not enough. She hopes that people got to understand what it means to be a part of a different faith.
“I was excited to see the Hillel starting up again, I know it hasn’t been active in the last few years,” said recent graduate, Audrey Honey.
According to Caroline Sipiera, senior at Western and member of the Tri-City Jewish Center, the demographic of Jewish people in the Quad Cities is dominated with an older age group. She was really excited to see a Jewish event going on, especially for the college age people.
Dr. Ehrlich has been supportive of Pacheco’s efforts to bring the chapter’s presence back on campus. She thinks he is coming up with great ideas and is excited to see the Hillel chapter’s revival.
Pacheco was approached by Ehrlich after he won the Geifman scholarship from the Center for the study of Judaism and Jewish Culture. Ehrlich asked Pacheco if he would be interested in taking on the role of president for the Hillel chapter, according to Pacheco. He was glad to be able to take on a leadership role and make an impact at Augustana.