More than 100 students, faculty and staff gathered in Lobby 7 on Tuesday, Dec. 20, to celebrate the beginning of Hanukah with the annual lighting of MIT Hillel’s test tube menorah.
Rabbi Michelle Fisher SM '97, Jewish chaplain and executive director of MIT Hillel, led seniors Zach Stauber and Jason Strauss in the lighting of the first candle of the menorah, signaling Hanukah’s first night. During the half-hour ceremony, attendees also socialized, spun dreidels and ate oil-based chocolate donuts, which celebrated the long-lasting oil of the Hanukah story.
The ceremony featured a performance by Techiya, MIT’s only Jewish, Hebrew and Israeli a cappella group. The group, whose name is derived from the word for a particular note blown through a ram’s horn on Rosh Hashanah, performed a variety of Hebrew songs and led the attendees in a sing-along of Hanukah classics.
The tradition of the test tube menorah began in the late 1970s. The menorah, which replaces traditional candles with olive-oil-filled test tubes, serves as both a symbol of the Jewish tradition and a quirky reminder of MIT’s dedication to science. The ceremony provides a venue for all members of MIT’s Jewish community to congregate, which can be especially fulfilling during the stressful exam period.
“I know no other campus that does something like this,” says Rabbi Fisher. “The story of Hanukah is all about retaining identity. To have this symbol that brings together the dual identities of being both a Jew and an MIT community member truly enhances the meaning and celebration of the holiday.”
To learn more, visit the MIT Hillel website.