Senior Lizzy Stompel said she has attended the annual menorah lightings since moving to Chapel Hill, mentioning how important it was for her to be physically involved with the lighting at such a young age. Now, as both president of UNC’s Chabad and treasurer of Sigma Rho Lambda, she has played an integral part in planning the event.
“Having that experience, I wanted to do something similar for the Jewish community,” Stompel said.
For over a month, she and other Chabad members organized the event, from planning the intricate LED light show to reaching out to University administration.
“I’m really excited to have a little bit of everyone kind of participating with a huge festivity right in the middle of campus,” Stompel said. “I wanted to plan something big.”
Both Rabbi Bluming and Stompel said the lighting is one of the most celebrated and symbolic Jewish holidays.
“Hanukkah candles are really the light that Judaism brings to the world when we’re unafraid to announce our identity to the public, to live by our principles and to defend, if necessary, our freedoms,” Bluming said.
Bluming said Hanukkah is also a celebration of religious freedom and appreciation of different holidays during this time of year.
“It’s a symbol of pride and the ability to feel comfortable, especially at a university like UNC that cherishes individualism,” he said. “The holiday really embodies that.”
In the wake of recent anti-Semitic attacks in the United States, Bluming said the thousands of menorah lightings across the country are a symbol of solidarity and perseverance that he hopes everyone can partake in.
“Especially now when there’s so much darkness and chaos in the world, a little bit of light helps dispel the darkness,” Bluming said. “When you kindle flames, it creates light.”