University of Dubuque students celebrate first night of Hanukkah - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

University of Dubuque students celebrate first night of Hanukkah

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- A Hanukkah celebration at the University of Dubuque helped one Los Angeles freshman feel at home.

Larissa Shebroe is a psychology major at the University of Dubuque.

"I used to grow up in Las Angeles, which is a really big Jewish population, and I wanted to come here for school because it's such a great school, but there aren't that many Jewish people here to celebrate with," Shebroe said.

During freshmen orientation, she said she met Jewish couple Phyllis Garfield, who is director of International Studies at University of Dubuque, and her husband Alan Garfield, who is the chair of UD's Computer Graphics and Interactive Media Program. When they learned she wouldn't be going home to Los Angeles for the holidays, they invited her to join them.

Soon, the Garfields came up with the idea of hosting a Hanukkah celebration on campus.

"It's the first year that the school decided to sponsor a Hanukkah festival, a Hanukkah celebration," Alan Garfield said."We had no idea if we'd have five people or fifteen."

More than twenty students showed up. They learned about the traditions and history of the holiday by playing the dreidel game, eating traditional food, such as potato latkes, and hearing Alan Garfield speak about the meaning of Hanukkah.

"In America, it's become a lot more of a big holiday just because it's close to other holidays," Phyllis Garfield said, "and it gives Jewish children something to enjoy."

As for continuing the celebrations she's known growing up, Shebroe said, "it's really nice they have events like this here on campus."

She said it's also an opportunity for her friends to learn more about her background.

"My students also say, 'Well, can I wish you a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah?'" Alan Garfield said. "Of course you can, because it's from the heart, it's from the spirit."

One tradition of Hanukkah is gift-giving, and the Garfields have an extra special gift this year. On Wednesday - the first night of Hanukkah - they found out their daughter is going into labor with their first grandchild.

Alan Garfield said don't worry about too much about the spelling of Hanukkah, since the word is spelled correctly only when it's written in Hebrew. He said any English spelling is called a transliteration.

For some Americans, celebrating this holiday has changed from custom traditions.

Some interfaith marriages lead to families celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah this time of year.

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, commemorates the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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