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Menorah lighting ceremony celebrates Hanukkah at U. of C.

Daniel Frankel 19 second year political science major lights new 9-foot-tall menorah during menorah- lighting ceremonySunday University Chicago's Bartlett Quad

Daniel Frankel, 19, a second year political science major, lights the new 9-foot-tall menorah during a menorah- lighting ceremonySunday at the University of Chicago's Bartlett Quad in Chicago. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 11, 2013 6:23AM

A new 9-foot menorah on the quad of the University of Chicago campus was the centerpiece of a Hanukkah ceremony Sunday evening that included prayer, song, food and fire-dancing.

“This holiday celebrates the indomitable spirit of the Jews,” said Professor Charles Lipson, who spoke moments after sophomore Daniel Frankel lit two candles, marking the second day of Hanukkah.

“Show your pride continuously for being Jewish on this campus,” Lipson said. “Jews are an integral part of the University of Chicago.”

The menorah-lighting ceremony at the U. of C., near 57th and University, was yards from a library where students were studying for finals.

Freshman Matthew Goldenberg planned to study for seven hours, but he took a quick break to watch the ceremony, chat and eat latkes — a traditional Jewish food made of fried potatoes.

“It’s a holiday to bring people together, a fun social event,” said Goldenberg, of Fargo, N.D.

About 60 people attended the event, which featured fire-dancing by the university’s circus club and Jewish music performed by the school’s pep band.

“This is my first Hanukkah in 19 years without my family,” said freshman Eden Racket, who appreciated the sense of community Sunday evening.

“But I’m still going to Skype into my family’s candle-lighting later,” said Racket, of Sacramento, Calif.

The new menorah, which cost about $1,000, replaces a 6-foot menorah that was poorly designed, said Rabbi Yossi Brackman of the Jewish organization Chabad.

“This holiday reminds us of the battle the Jews fought 2,300 years ago for their religious freedom,” Brackman said. “It’s a very American ideal.”

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