In a world of high-tech hoopla, it’s nice for a change to see things done the old-fashioned way. Or even better, to bring the past into the present in an innovative fashion. Inspired by the success of car-top menorah parades organized by Chabad centers around the world, Chabad on Campus serving Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., decided to try something different this year: Deliver the light of Chanukah by horse and buggy.

“Although a rare sight on campus, the horse and buggy is strongly associated with Lancaster County’s history and culture,” says Shira Kipnees, class of '15, incoming co-president of Chabad on Campus at Franklin & Marshall. “One of the reasons I believe the Chabad movement has been so successful worldwide is that they effectively incorporate local customs, when appropriate. We wanted to tap into that powerful dynamic.”

Rabbi Elazar Green, co-director of the Rohr Chabad Jewish Center in Lancaster agrees. "It was an incredible experience. People were smiling, waving, running up to us and taking pictures of us and with us,” says Green. “I am so pleased to be able to facilitate this special local flavor of a mobile menorah. I do give credit to my wife and co-director Shira Green, who thought of it and really encouraged me to do it this year."

Kipnees points out that a key aim of the holiday is publicize the Chanukah miracle—that through Divine intervention, a small band of Jews was able to overcome the forced assimilation imposed upon them by the Syrian-Greeks.

“The holiday of Chanukah is unique in that the observance is to be done in a public place in order to spread awareness of the Chanukah miracle to a wider audience,” says the student. “Traditionally, this is accomplished by lighting the menorah in a window or doorway. Our menorah-toting buggy is just another way we hope to publicize the Chanukah miracle.”

She believes that the image of a menorah atop a horse and buggy riding across campus was one that students will remember for a very long time.

 Shira Kipnees and Marissa Sobel with their now-favorite horse.
Shira Kipnees and Marissa Sobel with their now-favorite horse.

“Sometimes, you have to break away from what is expected in order to get your message across,” says Kipnees. “We don’t judge success based on numbers. If our buggy rides across campus will inspire just one person to reflect more deeply on the holiday of Chanukah and the beauty of Jewish tradition, then I would judge it to be a success.”