Students, President Warren kick off Hanukkah with nine-foot-tall menorah


Kent State President Beverly Warren lights the shamash on the nine-foot-tall menorah on December 3, 2018.

Krista Renaldo

Chabad at Kent State and the Hillel kicked off the holiday season with a nine-foot-tall menorah in the courtyard outside of the Student Center, in honor of its second annual Hanukkah event.

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is traditionally celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and fried foods for eight days. The Jewish Centers honored the holiday with the event as students and participants gathered to eat donuts and carry candles and listen to a performance by the Tau Beta Sigma band, a co-ed national honorary band sorority.

Participants were given their own candles to light and hold as Kent State  President Beverly Warren had the honor of attempting to light the shamash.

The shamash is the “assisting” candle as it helps to ignite the others. Rabbi Moshe Sasonkin used this specific candle to relate back to the president as a reason why she was chosen to light it.

“She really exemplifies that and it’s her last Hanukkah here so we wanted to capture it and it’s really special,” Sasonkin said.

Warren couldn’t quite get the candle to light, so someone stepped in to help.

During the ceremony, the crowd gathered around to sing prayers together as the rest of the candles were lit.

“It is a custom from within the Chabad community to light menorahs in public areas because the holiday of Hanukkah signifies spreading light to everyone around,” Sasonkin said, “(to) make sure that their kindness and goodness is spread throughout the world because, in today’s world, it’s very dark.”

Sasonkin said Chabad is the largest Jewish organization in the world. It is spread across 250 campuses and in Jewish communities. Bringing this to KSU was an opportunity not only for the organization but for the community.

According to, Chabad is a Jewish movement that spread worldwide after the Holocaust. It is an acronym of “Chochmah, Binah, Da’at,” which means wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Under the direction of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson and Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, Chabad formed around the idea of “caring for the spiritual and material needs of all Jews.”

“For us to be able to do that here in Kent State is amazing because we get to show everyone and spread that light and show the whole community how diverse this campus is and its really cool,” Sasonkin said.

Also, as a part of their life mission to spread the message of Judaism, Sasonkin and his wife decided to move to Kent.

“It was an opportunity for us,” he said. “We saw a need for the growing Jewish community here.”

Krista Renaldo is Krista Renaldo is the homecoming, alumni affairs, and fundraising reporter. Contact her at [email protected]