Yeshiva University’s First Chanukahfest A Success, Fills Max Stern Athletic Center
The third night of Chanukah saw over 800 of YU and Stern students fill the Max Stern Athletic Center on the Wilf Campus for the first ever Chanukafest. The event took the place of the usual holiday-inspired Chanukah concert that served as the primary co-ed Chanukah celebration for a number of years at YU, but whose attendance had declined in recent years. Chanukafest was a novel proposal from the seven student council committees of the Wilf and Beren campuses that orchestrated and executed it.
The carnival-themed event comprised various booths set up across the lively, crowded room. Energetic students could be seen playing Chanukah-spirited games, snacking on the free food, socializing with old friends, and making new ones amid all the excitement. “I can tell a lot of work went into planning this,” observed sophomore Noah Frankel at the event. “I’d say it’s paying off too. There are so many things to do! This is a great Chanukah party.”
The main attraction of the night, though, was the mesmerizing dance moves showcased by street performing and former America’s Got Talent duo, Tic and Tac, who performed two different acts at the fest. Both acts drew an animated crowd of students, who flocked towards center-court and huddled around to watch the performers deftly execute their acrobatic stunts.
And the overall reaction of the student body to the performers seemed positive. “The event as a whole was really fun. But the Tic and Tac performance took the night from good to unforgettable,” exclaimed sophomore Joseph Solomont. Senior Ari Marder confessed that he wasn’t having the best time at the event prior to their act, but that once Tic and Tac started to perform, his experience drastically improved. “The party was so-so. But then they came out. I’ve never seen people flip in the air like that before. It honestly was one of the coolest shows I’ve ever seen, and made everything else here seem better too.”
Noam Safier, president of the Yeshiva Student Union, reflected on the event in similar fashion. “People seemed to really enjoy the casual mix of food, games, music and friends.” On behalf of the many committees that conjoined to coordinate the festival, he continued “All of us are incredibly satisfied with the result and are glad to see that our gamble of straying from the traditional concert paid off.”
Even after the festivities concluded, most in attendance got to walk away with a good taste in their mouths, and not just from the Latkes they had just consumed. “The best part of the night, for me, was getting some new YU apparel,” said sophomore Deena Drazin, holding up the new “Y” embroidered winter hat that she, and many others received from the school upon entrance to the event. Due to the huge turnout, though, the supply of hats proved to be quite scant. Jacob Herenstein, who was distributing the apparel, estimated a turnout of 600 students, and said the 300 total hats went in about eight minutes. As a result, some students, like sophomore Jeremy Shevach, were deprived of the opportunity to receive the Chanukah gift. “I wish I had gotten there a little earlier so I could’ve snagged one,” said Shevach, visibly disappointed. “It didn’t ruin the night, though,” he added on a more positive note. “My friends and I had a great time watching the performers and snacking on the corn dogs and popcorn.”
Some students weren’t as satisfied, though. Senior Ben Barel criticized the absence of Sufganiyot at Chanukafest. “I actually left another event I was at early because I was in the mood for some jelly doughnuts and assumed that there would be some here. I mean, what kind of Chanukah party doesn’t have jelly doughnuts?”
An aggravated Barel admitted that he exited the event within only a few minutes of arriving there, explaining, “This was a great idea. But I wish they would have stuck with the concert approach as they have in past years.” He seemed to be one of the exceptions though, as the general crowd departed from the festivities in overtly positive spirits, and could be heard sharing their favorite parts of the night as students hung around campus even far after the event came to a close.
“My favorite part of the night was the carnival games. How often do you get to play carnival games for free? And there were prizes!” said sophomore Shmuel Knoller. “I hope they do this again next year.”
Others simply enjoyed the crowd and company of other students having a good time. Senior Carol Jacobson said “It was just a perfect event--a chance for students from both campuses to hang out and celebrate Chanukah in an appropriate environment.” Jacobson, whose family has attended YU for 3 generations, added that her grandparents met at an event just like this one, a Lag Ba’Omer Chagigah over 50 years ago.
Whether it was the games, the show or the food, it seemed like the student body appreciated the event and enjoyed themselves. “Events are run for the students, and when the students are satisfied, we know we’re doing a good job” concluded Safier. When asked about the possibility of a second Chanukafest next year, he simply replied, “That’s up to next year’s council, but I hope they decide to do it.”