By: Shlomit Ebbin  | 

Over 1,500 Join YU’s Chanukah Takeover At American Dream Mall

Over 1,500 people signed up to go to American Dream Mall on Wednesday, Dec. 1, the fourth night of Chanukah, making it YU’s biggest event of the year. The “takeover” was planned by all student councils and the Office of Student Life (OSL). 

Assistant Director of OSL Rabbi Herschel Hartz and OSL Stanton Fellow Dovie Solomon (SSSB ‘21) played a key role in organizing and planning the event. Of the 1,500 who attended, over 1,000 of them were undergraduate students. Additionally, the Office of Admissions also invited about 200 prospective students. 

The attractions included the ice skating rink, Nickelodeon Amusement Park and major tech raffles. Students were able to purchase Chickies but were provided with free latkes and donuts. Magic Memories Photography was hired to take pictures, which were available to be picked up for free from guest services. Buses to the mall left each campus at 6:15, 7:15 and 8:15 p.m., and buses went back to each campus at staggered times, with the last bus leaving at 11:00 p.m. 

“I was thrilled to see how many rebbeim and roshei yeshiva came with their families,” shared YSU President Elazar Abrahams (YC ‘22). “It created such a nice atmosphere.”

Students were required to sign up and reserve a spot on a bus in advance, as well as sign a waiver. An additional bus was provided for Beren students who attended an honors event that ended at 7:30 p.m. 

According to sources familiar with the matter, the takeover cost around $50,000, which included a $10,000 contribution from the Office of Admissions. This figure is in the same ballpark as the last Chanukah event, held in December 2019 before the pandemic, which was a concert that cost roughly $60,000.

Many students found the Chanukah event to be a great experience. “It was so fun to come with my wife and show her all that YU offers us!” shared Yitzchak Tollinsky (YC ‘24), who got special permission to bring his wife. “We particularly loved the ice skating and spent most of our time in skates!”

Leah Feder (SCW ‘22) felt similarly. “In all honesty, the YU American Dream takeover was the best YU event I've ever been to,” she said. “It was incredibly fun, exciting, and such a unique idea! The event was also very well run, with everything from dinner, to entertainment, to an array of activities.” 

She jokingly added, “YU, just stop here and do American Dream Mall for every YU event!”

“The American Dream was absolutely incredible,” said SYMSSC Vice President of Clubs Shaina Levin (SSSB ‘23). “I heard from many, many people, students and professors and their families, that this was by far the best event that YU has ever had. I am very grateful to have been able to be there and be a part of it and see that it affected the student body in a really positive way.”

“Students from all corners of YU showed up and had an awesome time,” Abrahams told The Commentator. “The response seems to be overwhelmingly positive. We took a big swing and it paid off. Now it’s on to the next.”

Photo Caption: The Nickelodeon Amusement Park and ice skating rink were rented out exclusively for YU.

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University