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UNC students celebrate Hanukkah with ice menorah

The Pit became a land of fire and ice Wednesday night when a carved ice menorah was lit in honor of the first day of Hanukkah.

About 50 people gathered in the Pit on Wednesday night for “Hanukkah on Ice” to celebrate the start of the Jewish holiday.

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day holiday that acknowledges the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century, B.C.

Each night of the holiday, an extra candle is lit on the Menorah.

The ceremony focused around the creation and lighting of the Menorah, carved by a local artist. Attendants, ranging from bearded rabbis to youngsters, gathered around the piece and took pictures.

Once completed, attendants helped light the Menorah by placing lit candles on top of the structure.

The group was serenaded by musicians playing traditional Jewish songs, and latkes (potato cakes) and doughnuts were also provided.

Jacob Forstater, a graduate student, happily socialized with fellow students as he watched the menorah being created.

He said he thought the lighting ceremony was especially significant for Jewish students far from home.

“It is important for students to come together, especially those who do not have family close by,” he said.

Everyone received a mini Star of David made of ice to keep.

Rabbi Zalman Bluming, who helped plan the event, said the lighting of the Menorah shows how the world becomes a richer place when each person shares their light with the rest of the world.

He added that the holiday offers a way for Jewish students to affirm their identities.

“The ceremony represents carrying your identification proud,” he said. “There shouldn’t be a separation of who you are and where you are.”

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