U-Md. Menorah lighting spreads hope

UMD President Darryll Pines (left) and Rabbi Eli Backman (right) both took turns speaking before the menorah lighting. (Charles Summers/Mitzpeh)

By Charles Summers 

University of Maryland Chabad held its annual public menorah lighting on Nov. 29 in front of McKeldin Library.

President Darryll Pines attended and told the gathering, “Chanukah is one of those incredible opportunities where we share in this cultural experience that has come to us from the Jewish faith, but the points of light that it represents for all of us, is hope. I’m so grateful that we can do this on our campus and celebrate this incredible tradition of Jewish faith.”

Because the beginning of Chanukah coincided with Thanksgiving weekend, Chabad Rabbi Eli Backman decided to hold the menorah lighting on the second night of Chanukah, since many Jewish students were returning to campus on Sunday night.


At last year’s ceremony, held during the height of the pandemic, only Backman, his son, Mendel, and Pines attended. “I didn’t really publicize it. We had just a few people,” Backman said. “In years before that, we’ve had hundreds.”

This year, tables with latkes, applesauce and hot apple cider flanked the library’s entrance. In addition to the food, Chabad gave out menorahs, candles and dreidels for students to take back to their dorms.

Junior Remi Jungreis helped clean up after the event ended. She said she learned about the event on Instagram and decided to attend. She had been to only one other public menorah lighting, last year at Towson University.

“I celebrated Chanukah by lighting on my own and going to a COVID-safe public menorah lighting,” she said. “The turnout was good, lots of little kids, but since the university was not open, no university staff showed up.”

Pines said that the menorah lighting can “hold hope for any person of any culture, not just those of Jewish background. It provides a sense of light, and helps us alleviate our fears of what the future may bring.”

This article originally appeared in Mitzpeh, the Jewish student news publication at the University of Maryland.

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