Student Discovers He’s Jewish Thanks to Campus Chanuka Party

Shluchim at USC Rabbi Dov and Runya Wagner were holding a Chanuka party at one of the campus fraternities when a student walking nearby was suddenly made aware of his Jewish roots.

Chanuka at Chabad @ USC when it falls during the semester is a busy time. Menorah lightings at dorms and dining halls, at the libraries and in the center of campus, and at fraternities and sororities, bring hundreds of Jews to feel the light of Chanuka.

This year, 37 events reached 1,445 students – with the highlight the main celebration in the middle of campus with University President Carol Folt, the marching band playing Chanuka songs, and much more.

But the most inspirational story this Chanuka came from a student who didn’t participate directly at all. One of the fraternities at which the shluchim, Rabbi Dov and Runya Wagner, held a Chanuka celebration was Sigma Chi. Twelve Jewish kids gathered in the dining room, lit menorahs, sang some songs, and enjoyed latkes and donuts. But the story didn’t end there.

Two days later, the Chabad USC Director of Engagement Mushka Novack and the Shlucha Mrs. Runha Wagner were carrying the day’s order of donuts in from the car. At 32 dozen, it was quite a lot to carry. Some students walking by offered to lend a hand. And then one of them says: You were at Sigma Chi the other night, weren’t you? When they responded in the affirmative he continued: I was in the next room, talking to my Mom on the phone. I told her there was something going on for Chanuka. And she told me: You know I’m Jewish? I had never known. So I guess that makes me part Jewish?

Not part, they answered….

A week later, a new student was at Chabad for Shabbos dinner. When his turn came to share his most memorable moment of the semester he got up and said: My most memorable moment of the semester is right now. I just discovered I’m a Jew, and this is the first Shabbat of my life.

The miracle of Chanukah was finding and igniting the hidden jug of pure oil. Chassidus tells us that it represents the essence of every Jewish soul that always remains pure, and is just awaiting someone to ignite it. Even someone who never even knew he was a Jew, and didn’t even participate in the Menorah lighting, is also waiting for that spark to ignite his soul.

To participate in so many incredible stories like this, join Chabad @ USC’s year-end matching campaign going on now at

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