A multitude of blue and white streamers lead up to the McElroy faculty dining room. Dreidels and gelt line the long tables. Latkes, pizza, and donuts are served to a crowd of students ready to celebrate at BC’s Hillel chapter Hanukkah party.
Hanukkah, “rededication” in Hebrew, commemorates the victory of the Maccabees (the Jews) over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E and the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem. In order to purify the temple, the Maccabees needed to burn ritual oil in the temple’s menorah. They realized they only had enough oil for one day, but the oil somehow lasted eight days, establishing the miracle of Hanukkah.
One might think being Jewish at a Jesuit, Catholic university could be difficult. BC’s Hillel chapter begs to differ. President Sarah Bleicher finds similarities between Jesuit and Jewish values. In Judaism, there is a practice called tikkun olam, or “repairing the world,” similar to our responsibility as students at a Jesuit school to be “men and women for others.”
“It can be challenging to be surrounded by Catholicism (crosses in all of the classrooms) or to not understand concepts that so many of my fellow students do. (I'm taking my theology core right now.) But, it's wonderful to stand out and be different here,” said Bleicher.
In addition to having events for every major Jewish holiday, BC’s Hillel hosts about 30 to 40 people every Friday night for Shabbat dinner at 6 P.M. in the Gabelli lounge. The meal is student-made, kosher and it’s a great way for students to unwind in a relaxed environment.
“I hope people feel the presence of Judaism in our club, but that they also feel at home and comfortable with whatever they believe and wherever they are from,” Bleicher said.
BC Hillel is proud of its presence on campus considering BC’s Christian majority. “We like to say Hillel is small but mighty!” she said. “There are only so many Jews at BC and we can only grow so large, but we like to make other people aware that we exist and that there are Jews at a Jesuit school and that we really are more similar than most people would assume.”
All photos by Katie Levingston
Gavel Media Staff