Hillel at Loyola University Chicago, one of ten campuses affiliated with Metro Chicago Hillel, put a twist on a muggle's celebration of Hanukkah. Harry Potter Hanukkah was a week of experiences which celebrated the themes and traditions of Hanukkah while incorporating lessons and symbolism from J.K. Rowling's popular book series.
"I found Harry Potter Hanukkah a very interesting way to view Hanukkah in a fresh 'light,'" said Loyola student Elisheva Krinsky. "It caused me to think of new ways to see light, miracles, and our community."
The week was jam packed with events - A Harry Potter Hanukkah Miracle table complete with a 9 ¾ photo booth, crafting hanukkiyot (menorahs) and wands while enjoying latkes and butter beer, movie nights, an interactive museum-style exhibit, and more.
Two events in particular highlighted the magic of the week. "Hanukkah and the Deathly Hallows" was a unique opportunity to examine values that shape the Jewish community and discuss Hanukkah as a re-dedication of the Jewish people, using Talmudic texts and concepts from Harry Potter. Students connected the Deathly Hallows to three values: pluralism, integrity, and community, and used this language to guide their discussion and nuanced interpretation of the text.
The week concluded with A Harry Potter Hanukkah Shabbat at Silverstein Base Hillel. The meal included British-inspired dishes, chocolate frogs, Bertie Botts Beans, and polyjuice potion. Students had a blast competing in a Tri-Wizard Tournament. Each table named their team and competed in tasks involving trivia, clay transfiguration, and "dragon eggs."
"I never thought to look at Harry Potter from a Jewish perspective, but when comparing it to Hanukkah, the similarities are immense," said Loyola student Sarah Steiner.
Hannah Bloomberg is the Jewish Life Associate for Metro Chicago Hillel at Loyola University Chicago and Northeastern Illinois University.