Westover Community Joins in Menorah Lighting Festivities

Members of the Westover and Middlebury communities were on hand Dec. 2 for the Menorah Lighting on the Middlebury Green to mark the start of Hanukkah.

Head Dorm Parent Megan Vojack-Weeks '06 lights the Menorah on the Middlebury Green December 2 to mark the beginning of this year's Hanukkah festivities.

Members of the Westover Community Celebrate the Start of the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah

A dozen members of the Westover and greater Middlebury communities were on hand Sunday, December 2, for the annual Menorah Lighting on the Middlebury Green to mark the beginning of this year's Hanukkah festivities.

This year's event was organized by Westover Chaplain Thomas Hungerford and Head Dorm Advisor Megan Vojack-Weeks '06, who also serves as the School's Jewish students advisor. The Middlebury lighting ceremony included the traditional Hanukkah blessings and the singing of a Hanukkah song, Rock of Ages. Megan lit both the center bulb and the first night bulb on the menorah. Members of the Westover community will assist in lighting the menorah lights on the Middlebury Green over the eight-day holiday.

Following the menorah lighting on the Green, guests were invited into Westover's Red Hall, where the first lights of the School's cast iron menorah, were turned on by Jessica Gelfand '19 after the blessings were recited. Those in attendance then enjoyed donuts and hot cider provided by the School.

On Tuesday, December 4, students, faculty, and staff will enjoy a Hanukkah meal and play traditional games with dreidels, the four-sided tops that are part of the holiday's festivities.

The lighting ceremony on the Green has been arranged by the Middlebury Congregational Church, which owns the Green, and Westover, whose maintenance staff sets up the menorah, as a gift to their Jewish neighbors. The tradition of the menorah on the Middlebury Green was established in 1997 by the Reverend Dennis Calhoun and Selectman Elaine Strobel with Westover's support.

The story of Hanukkah dates back to 165 years before the birth of Jesus. The Jews, under the control of a Syrian regime led by Antiochus, were prohibited from observing their traditions. Judah Maccabee, which means "Judah the Hammer," led a revolt against this religious oppression. Finally, about three years after the oppression began, the Maccabees rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem.

According to legend, as they cleaned the filth strewn in the Temple by Antiochus's soldiers, the Jews could find only enough oil to light the holy lamp for one day, but miraculously the oil lasted for eight days, time enough for more of the special oil to be prepared. To commemorate the miracle each year, Jewish people around the world light lamps for eight days.

Jessica Gelfand '19 lights Westover's Menorah in Red Hall on December 2 on the first night of Hanukkah.