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Shai and Segal


by Shai Josopov, and Sigal Kleynerman, Dec 7 2016


Growing up in Israel, we got used to having Chanukah around, as a natural part of our environment. As children, we fondly remember celebrating Chanukah in kindergarten, dressing up like candles, dancing around in a circle and singing all the Chanukah songs that we all know and love. We also remember playing all the different Chanukah games, like finding the candy buried under a heap of flour or decorate the Sufganiot. Most  of it all, we remember how every evening for 8 days, everyone would stop everything and gather around the Menorah for the candle lighting ceremony.


The other day we were talking about this and Sigal told me of how when she was a young girl taking ballet classes at the community center in Karmiel, all classes would stop all together just for the candle lighting ceremony. "It was just beautiful, seeing how everyone during the 8 days of Chanukah would stop classes and gather in the hall, just to light the candles and remember the miracle". Later, I told Sigal that I remember how on the 8th night of Chanukah in 2009 when the Gaza war started, my company and I stopped in a diner not very far from the Gaza border, just to do the mitzvah of lighting the last candle.


Later, while working as social coordinators for the Hebrew University at the 'Rothberg International School', we remembered how each year we would organize all the Chanukah parties for the students to enjoy. Each day, during breaks from classes, we would hold this big Chanukah fair, full of Chanukah songs and activities we used to have as children. The students were really enjoying it all - Decorating their own Menorahs and Sufganiot, betting with chocolate coins in the 'Chanukah Casino' and even a 'Jewish Piñata'. The highlight of every day would be the candle lighting ceremony at 4 P.M. Each day, just like when we were kids, all the students would step outside of class and gather together to light the Menorah.


Occasionally, these festivities would take place while aChristmas tree was set up in the school's main hall, to allow the Christian students to celebrate their holiday as well. In times such as these, the two holidays would coincidence and we would all celebrate together, illuminating the school with all of that happy and hopeful light. In one such case, we even enjoyed a performance by a choir of priests visiting the school, who later in their show sang Chanukah songs, further enhancing the holiday spirit.   


This has become a prominent reality in the university and in Jerusalem in general. Light, it seems, has become an important element  of  Chanukah.  All the memories we gathered from this holiday, during different times in our lives, even tougher ones, have always been ones revolving around light and the ability to overcome challenges in the face of uncertainty.


One of the most prominent  figures to teach us about light was Albert Einstein. In 1905. he published his 'Quantum theory of light', arguing that light is made up of many particles, or photons, joined together to create a massive energy. With this, Einstein shocked the entire world by arguing that these particles make up the entire universe we live in. This, in turn, would later be developed by Einstein into one of the science's  most ground-breaking theories: 'The theory of relativity'. A theory that has radically changed the way we look at our world. This way of thinking would also resonate in Einstein’s other works, such as the establishment of The Hebrew University, believing that just like light, such an institution could eventually create timeless energy, which will, in turn, continue to deliver ground-breaking research such as his. 


Chanukah at Rothberg is but one example of how Einstein’s dream has become a reality. Light, in all its different variations is present almost everywhere at the University. From the gathering of  students who come from different countries, backgrounds, and even religions, studying and celebrating the holiday together, to ground-breaking and innovative research.. It seems like all the students, professors, researchers, are joining together as photons, to create a massive light energy, that travels all around the world, illuminating our path towards the future and the way we see the world. Its evident as we see  students from different religions celebrating Chanukah together; major progress in the search of a cure for Cancer and AIDS; the development of new ways and techniques to use, conserve and recycle water; innovation such as the drug ‘EXELON’  for mild-Alzheimer’s disease and technology such as  ‘Mobile-Eye’ real-time warning system for drivers designed to prevent accidents. These are all photons that make up the light emitted from The Hebrew University, the institution that has taken upon itself to realize Einstein's theories and dreams.


Chanukah is a great time for us to all remember the miracles of the past and the ones that are yet to come. Light, perhaps Chanukah’s biggest character, is a reminder that we will always find new ways to overcome challenges and rough times. Because like light, which at this time of the year is seen all around us in many shapes and colors, we will always find new ways to move forward, together.


We would like to wish you and your loved ones, a happy Chanukah, full of light, hope, and happiness.

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