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Students Light Candles At Hillel, Houses

By Jal D. Mehta

Jewish students celebrated Hanukkah by lighting menorahs in many places across campus last night, with one exception--their rooms.

Students are prohibited from lighting candles in their rooms by a College regulation adopted last year after several room fires.

In response to the College's policy, Hillel is sponsoring a candle-lighting ceremony in almost all of the house common rooms for each day of Hanukkah.

But orthodox students interviewed last night said they were still unhappy with the restrictions.

"I would have preferred to do it in my room," said Jonathan Gruenhut '00.

The orthodox students said the new rules prevented them from following Jewish law, which requires them to place menorahs where they eat or sleep.

"When you are Jewish living out of Israel you have to live with [these restrictions]," said Ben A. Siris '97. "[But] if the University decided to change it next year it would be nice."

According to Reform Minyan Rabbi Sally Finestone, the College approached Hillel about changing the policy after two major fires last winter.

Finestone said she was not pleased with the resolution, because it kept observant Jews from following Jewish law in the way that they would like, and because it stopped students from having smaller gatherings in their rooms.

"We were hoping for something similar to Brandeis University," Finestone said.

Brandeis allows students to have menorahs in their rooms, but requires students to sign a form agreeing to certain safety precautions, said Brandeis Dean of Student Affairs Rod Crafts.

Crafts said that Brandeis has had four fires in the past seven years as a result of unsafe use of religious candles in residence halls.

Some students said the move to house common rooms led to a beneficial community-oriented atmosphere.

"A lot of people prefer to light candles in groups," said Joshua D. Fine '96-'97, Hillel's Annual Events Chair, who coordinated candle-lighting in the houses.

"It is really nice that there is a community where you are lighting it," said David L. Levy '00. "I don't feel it is a problem at all."

Approximately 15 people came to the services in each house, and 40 people went to the common first-year service, according to Fine.

Almost all of the houses are also holding a Hanukkah party which will be open to any member of the house that wants to attend.

"We encouraged the houses to make these arrangements as a result of the change in policy about candles in student rooms, knowing that this is an important ceremony for many of our students," said Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68, who approved the new regulations.

Hillel Chair David J. Andorsky '97 said he saw the restriction as an opportunity to expose more people to Judaism.

"[The restriction] has given us a good opportunity to sponsor Jewish life within the houses," he said

"We encouraged the houses to make these arrangements as a result of the change in policy about candles in student rooms, knowing that this is an important ceremony for many of our students," said Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68, who approved the new regulations.

Hillel Chair David J. Andorsky '97 said he saw the restriction as an opportunity to expose more people to Judaism.

"[The restriction] has given us a good opportunity to sponsor Jewish life within the houses," he said

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