Dreidels were spun, babka was served and Hanukkah lessons were learned at the first-ever Southwestern College Festival of Lights event held on Nov. 20, presented by Southwestern College Jewish students and friends.
Rabbi Mendy Begun, of Chabad of Chula Vista, welcomed participants with messages and a brief history of Jewish culture and heritage.
“Today we are celebrating Hanukkah early at Southwestern College,” Mendy said. “Hanukkah is about increasing light, goodness and kindness. We always have that approach and ultimately we want to bring more light and goodness into our society, our community and our world.”
The rabbi, along with his wife Mussie Begun, shared their knowledge of the holiday with Southwestern College and Mussie emphasized its traditions and history rooted in the Jewish people’s liberation.
“This holiday may have roots in a religious story, but it definitely has a universal message,” Mussie said. “Sometimes, we are given messages that remind us how important our freedom is.”
All were welcomed to attend and more than 60 students, faculty and community members gathered in room 214. Attendees got to participate in traditional Hanukkah activities and practices, such as learning how to make paper dreidels, enjoy classic Jewish foods and socialize with Jewish members of the community.
One of the Southwestern College students in attendance was math and physics major Ethan Faulk, who was thrilled to attend a college event centered around his religion. Faulk said he was excited to celebrate the Festival of Lights at Southwestern College because most college Jewish events are held at four-year universities, not community colleges.
“To me, the point of the Festival of Lights is self-evident,” Faulk said. “In my religion, we want to bring heavenly light into the world.”
Rabbi Begun also explained the importance of the menorah and demonstrated how to light each candle with each passing night of Hanukkah.
“The menorah is not just a Jewish symbol anymore,” he said. “It is an international and global symbol that shows the importance of giving light and goodness into the world we live in.”