Dining for the Divine

New York Times Ad

The Tradition of the Chanukah Dinner in Building Yeshiva University

(By Shulamit Berger)

Large Hebrew letters boldly crowned Yeshiva’s advertisement in the New York Times on November 8, 1928, an early instance of Hebrew characters gracing that venerable publication:
“זה היום עשה ד’ נגילה ונשמחה בו”

New York Times Ad‘”This is the day that the Lord hath made: let us be glad and rejoice thereon.’—Psalms 118:24.” A similar ad in the Yiddish press proclaimed:

“והבית הזה יהיה עליון…”

And this House shall be elevated – Kings I, 9:8.

Both ads announced the Chanukat HaBayit, the dedication, of the new Yeshiva College building, the first step in the creation of the Washington Heights campus. The dedication ceremonies were scheduled for December 9, 1928, followed by a Chanukah banquet four days later. The ads, and the Biblical verses they quote, invoke the Temple, the ancient Bet Mikdash in Jerusalem, in describing the new building. The choice of Chanukah for the dedication ceremonies and dinner was deliberate and symbolic.  As the ad states, “Chanukah, the Feast of Lights, when the Maccabees rededicated the Temple after the historic victory over their Greek adversaries, will witness the dedication of a new Temple devoted to the service of God, the study of the Torah, Jewish philosophy, the sciences and American institutions.”

The inauguration of the magnificent new edifice marked the move uptown from the impoverished, overcrowded, immigrant neighborhood of the Lower East Side to the then bucolic Washington Heights.  It also launched a new era in the life of the institution – the addition of a new college of liberal arts and sciences to the Yeshiva. Read full article at the YU Libraries blog.


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