Contact Information:

Call: (917) 826-3368
Fax: (772) 673-2404



Rabbi Mendy Bukiet of Chabad of Bradenton displays a menorah on the roof of his 2003 Sonata, which will light up during Hanukkah.

Displaying one of the free menorah kits they will distribute are Rabbi Elazar Green (center), his wife, Shira Green(from left), and Franklin & Marshall College students and Chabad at F&M student board members Gabriella Wiener, Jessie Toback, Ruth Wiener, Sara Edrich, Laura Epstein and Michael Morgenstern.
(Eric Forberger/New Era)


Through Chabad at F&M, Jewish students at Franklin & Marshall College find a sense of community — especially important as they prepare to observe Hanukkah.

LANCASTER COUNTY, PA — When Ruth Wiener first came to Franklin & Marshall College as a sophomore, it seemed that she had come to another world.

Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was entrenched in her Jewish culture. She had even spent her freshman year in Israel in a foreign study program. So, she was a little taken aback to realize that Lancaster County was home to relatively few Jews.

She began to miss many of the aspects of growing up Jewish, from latkes to lighting the menorah for Hanukkah, also “Chanukah,” the Jewish Festival of Lights that begins at sundown Tuesday.

“I found that I longed for those traditions that had meant so much to me growing up,” Wiener said.

What she discovered at Franklin & Marshall was Chabad at F&M, an organization of Jewish students brought together by their shared faith and desire to have a Jewish family of friends in their four-year home away from home.

“One of the nicest parts of Chabad is that we have our Shabbat dinner at the rabbi's house, and it's almost like being home with your own family,” added Wiener, who is part of the Chabad at F&M's newly formed, seven-member student board.

The rabbi is Rabbi Elazar Green of the Chabad Jewish Enrichment Center of Lancaster and York, a Jewish educational and outreach organization. Together with his wife, Shira, the couple has created what so many Jewish young people crave in Lancaster — a sense of community.

So it seems fitting then that the students — together — can observe Hanukkah, a holiday that celebrates faith and family.

For the eight-day holiday, the Chabad at F&M is offering free Hanukkah menorah kits to college students who want to continue the tradition while away from home. The rabbi and students are also planning to have two “mobile menorahs,” lighted menorahs mounted atop vehicles, drive around town “spreading the light of Hanukkah wherever we go,” Green said.

As Green explained, the Chabad is not a synagogue, but is an enrichment center that helps people worship at home through programs that educate and “enrich” the spiritual lives of Jewish adults, teens and children.

The concept for Chabad at F&M came from the parent of an F&M freshman who asked if there was a way for the Chabad Jewish Enrichment Center to help Jewish students feel more comfortable in their new surroundings. The Chabad at F&M quickly evolved into a deep connection among Jewish students who may come to Lancaster County from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and other areas.

“It was much easier for me than my sister, because Chabad at F&M was already started before I got here,” said Gabriella Wiener, 18, an F&M freshman and younger sister of Ruth Wiener.

Like her sister, Gabriella had studied in Israel before coming to F&M. She had graduated from high school a year early, and was looking forward to attending the same school as her older sister.

“If there wasn't a Chabad, I think I would feel less at home here,” said Gabriella, who is also part of the student board. “It's very comforting to know that I am not the only one, that there are other Jewish students who want the tradition.”

Chabad at F&M is part of International Chabad on Campus Foundation, which provides spiritual, social and educational opportunities to Jewish students at hundreds of college campuses.

As Green explained, Chabad at F&M has a mission that might be just as comforting as grandmother's chicken soup. In fact, on the Chabad at F&M Facebook page, the Chabad House is described as a place where students can come for a “a bowl of homemade chicken soup, fresh baked challah and camaraderie at weekly Shabbat dinners.”

Students can take courses and spend time with the rabbi to ask serious questions about Judaism. They also say they find a sense of purpose in the community, through clothing drives for the homeless, blood drives for the sick, and opportunities to rebuild hurricane–ravaged communities.

Above all, the Chabad House is a place to socialize and relax with other Jewish students, get involved in educational trips to Israel, and have a leadership experience through the affiliated student groups.

With Hanukkah set to begin next week, the students of Chabad at F&M will mark the occasion with one of the best-known Jewish traditions — the lighting of the menorah.

They'll distribute menorah kits to any college student who wants one. The ready-to-go kits include a menorah, candles and holiday “how-to” guide. (To obtain a kit, contact the center at 368-6565 or visit

And they'll participate in a public lighting of a 10-foot-tall electric menorah from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at Congregation Degel Israel, 1120 Columbia Ave., with Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray participating.

The Chabad at F&M, with an office at 832 Marietta Ave., has planned two mobile menorahs this year, one more than in previous years. The rabbi will drive one of them around town and F&M freshman Michael Morgenstern will be driving the other.

“I'm very excited about Hanukkah and all the traditions,” said Morgenstern, of Potomac, Md. “I love the lighting of the menorah, the dreidel, even potato latkes. It's a way of saying that after so many centuries of persecution, we are still here with our traditions.”

Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple by the Jews following their victory over their Greek oppressors more than 2,000 years ago.

Although the Greek-Syrian leader Antiochus IV had ordered the removal of all consecrated oil from the sanctuary, a day's supply was found. But what should have lasted only a day lasted for eight full days — a miracle that laid the groundwork for a holiday that would last eight days.

Today, the miracle of the oil is also celebrated by eating foods fried in oil. That includes some of the most cherished — and delicious — Jewish foods, such as latkes (potato pancakes), and sufganiot (doughnuts), and blintzes, (crepes filled with a cream cheese.)

Children play with the dreidel, a spinning top inscribed with the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, hei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, which means “A great miracle happened there.”

Children also will receive small gifts of jewelry, money and other items during Hanukkah.

Michael Morgenstern sits in his car adorned with the mobile menorah he will drive through the community. (Eric Forberger/New Era)