New casino event brings fun to Chanukah

Puneet Kollipara

In celebration of the Chanukah holiday, the Jewish community at Washington University is turning the festival of lights into a festival of fun, with a charity casino night and an a cappella concert on the verge of exam week.

The casino night, jointly sponsored by the Jewish Student Union (JSU) and the St. Louis Hillel at the University, is being dubbed ChannuCASINO. The event will take place in the Holmes Lounge Monday night from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.

ChannuCASINO will feature several traditional casino games, including poker, black jack and roulette, as well as free food and live music.

According to junior Margy Levinson, a coordinator of the event, in the past, the JSU and Hillel held Chanukah parties, but this year they decided to try something new.

“We decided to explore the area of casino-type games,” said Levinson. “In the spirit of the holidays, we’ve also made it a charity event.”

The entry fee for the event is five dollars and proceeds will benefit the Warm Neighbors program run by Ameren, a local energy company that provides power to more than 2.2 million people in Missouri and Illinois. All money donated to Warm Neighbors goes directly to helping those who cannot afford to pay their heating bills this winter.

Traditional Chanukah foods, including potato latkes, or fried potato cakes, and sufganiyot, or ball-shaped doughnuts with a jelly filling, will be served for free.

Levinson said that ChannuCASINO goers will be able to enjoy the food and casino games, all while listening to live music performed by on-campus music groups.

“We’ve tried to make it a classy event,” said Levinson. “The music is going to be mostly jazzy, and it will be kind of like soft, background music.”

Additionally, there will be an a cappella performance by Staam, the University’s premiere Jewish a cappella group. Known as Staamika Hanukkah, the concert will take place on Tuesday night, the final night of Chanukah, at Ursa’s Fireside from 9 to 11 p.m.

At the second Chanukah party, Staamika Hanukkah, Staam will feature its newest lineup of songs. Potatoes latkes and chocolate gelt, small chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil, will be served as well.

According to sophomore Jonathan Friedman, a member of Staam, the event is meant to provide an opportunity for students to relax during reading week and enjoy good music and food. The religious aspect of the holiday, he said, will be downplayed.

“It’s not really that much of a religious event so much as it is us performing and getting people to come out and eat some good food, listen to some good music and generally have a good time,” said Friedman.

This year, the event coincidentally fell on the final night of Chanukah.

“Normally we just like to do [the event] during one of the days of reading week, but it just so happened that the last night of Hanukkah fell when it did this year,” said Friedman.

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