Recap of the Amazing Chanukah Donut Giveaway at Laurentian University, contributed by the Laurentian University CCAP (CAMERA Supported) Group Jewish Students Association VP Sidney Shapiro:

This week, to celebrate Chanukah, the Laurentian University Jewish Students Association tried something new: We put on an event called The Amazing Hanukkah Donut Giveaway. Laurentian University has about 9,000 students, and on Tuesday morning, we had about a thousand pass by for the three waves we expected between 10 AM and 4 PM. We set up in the “bowling alley”, namely because it is a long connecting hallway between two of the major classroom buildings. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have bowling in the hallways. Since Sidney (VP) was in charge of the cards, they had a Star Wars theme, and David (President) did his best to sell a product that really sells itself.

We were looking for an event that would bring out students, share the idea of Chanukah, and have some positive hasbarah with an Israeli spin. Since the sufgania is the national Chanukah treat in Israel (as opposed to the venerable North American latka), we decided to order 600 donuts and 100 cups of coffee. We offered a donut and coffee to students and faculty walking by, explained about Chanukah, and handed them a Star Wars themed card telling them about the festival of light, sufganiot, and the fight between good and evil. We told students about Chanukah, explained that it’s not Christmas, that in Israel we eat donuts (and yes, drink coffee) about a thousand times during the day.

Sufganiya- a round jelly doughnut eaten in Israel and around the world on the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. The doughnut is deep-fried, filled with jelly or custard, and then topped with powdered sugar.
Sufganiya- a round jelly doughnut eaten in Israel and around the world on the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. The doughnut is deep-fried, filled with jelly or custard, and then topped with powdered sugar.

The event was a resounding success. Plenty of students walked up to us and thanked us for the sugar and caffeine injection right before exam time, appreciated the cultural knowledge, and appreciated that we were creating community on campus and reaching out. We were pretty surprised by the range of students from all backgrounds and walks of life that stopped by. From just a grab and run to a prolonged schmooze, we talked to Christian, Muslim and Jewish students, talking about what Chanukah means, showing the flag, and all eating a lot of donuts. A professor we don’t know very well walked by and handed us a twenty and wished us a happy Chanukah, and we were blown away. We really saw a new sense of connection with the campus, and a very positive vibe from the event.

Even before we packed it in, six hours, six hundred donuts and a shissel of coffee later, we had over a hundred comments and likes on our Laurentian page thanking us for cheering people up during the end of school. Given a chance, we can do something small that makes a huge impact, and seeing a thousand students smiling at the prospect of a Happy Chanukah Free Donut really did it for us.

Wishing everyone a happy Chanukah. May the rest of your year be filled with miracles and light.

P.S. Of the people who did not have the greatest time was Tim’s worker, who actually worked tirelessly throughout the day, making trips back and forth to keep us constantly supplied with a wide arrange of donuts. She told us at the end of the day that she didn’t know what Chanukah is, but we sure have a lot of friends that like it.

Check out this clever Sufganiya (Chanuka Donut) related clip that Boston’s Northeastern students recently put together.

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