Chanukah lights will dress up town squares next week

During the past three years, "we borrowed one from the JCC, a wooden one, and we had difficulty with the cold weather," she said, referring to the Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto.

"The candles blew out."

So this year, children from Palo Alto's Congregation Kol Emeth will have PG&E to thank as they sing and dance around the new menorah blazing with light bulbs.

Byrne said last year between 200 and 300 people came to the plaza to light the chanukiah. "Each year we're pleasantly surprised," she said of the turnout. "It's definitely a growing event.

Providing music for dancing will be Vvi the Fiddler and his Klezmaniacs plus the Yiddish Choristers. There will be jelly doughnuts and dreidels for the kids. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and last until 8 p.m. For information, call the Los Altos Village Association at (650) 949-5282.

Also on the Peninsula, Chabad of Greater South Bay will hold its annual public menorah lighting at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13 at City Hall Plaza, 250 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto.

Music, dancing, latkes, cider and dreidels for the children will be provided.

In the East Bay, Danville will hold its first public menorah lighting at 5:30 p.m. each night of the holiday, beginning Sunday, Dec. 13 and concluding Sunday, Dec. 20 at Blackhawk Plaza.

Congregation Beth Chaim's choir and the children from the Danville synagogue's religious school will sing both Sundays. Joel Abramson will strum his guitar. Hot beverages and pastries will be served. For information, call Gayle Israel at (925) 648-7206.

In Walnut Creek, a menorah will be lit at 5 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 13 and 20 at Broadway Plaza Promenade Fountain.

The celebrations will include entertainment, clowns, face-painting and doughnuts.

Rabbi Yaakov Kagan will preside over the lighting of the 8-foot-tall, 6-foot-wide chanukiah fashioned of gold-painted pipes.

Sponsors are Chabad of Contra Costa and Broadway Plaza. For information, call (925) 937-4101.

In San Francisco, the 24th annual Union Square menorah lighting will begin Sunday, Dec. 13 at Geary and Powell streets.

Dubbed Bill Graham Menorah Day, in honor of its founder, the celebration will kick off with entertainment by Perry Farrell, Peter Himmelman, Rabbi Asi Spiegel, Mozaik, Zero and RebbeSoul beginning at noon.

For the first time, the weeklong Festival of Lights celebration in Union Square will feature eight full days of activities including more than 40 arts and crafts booths, music and food.

Among the artists represented will be mixed-media artist Michael Donner and photographer Zeny Cieslikowski.

Sunday through Thursday activities, including live music concerts and food and craft booths, will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with the lighting of the 22-foot-high mahogany chanukiah commencing at 5 p.m.

In observance of the Sabbath, the booths will close from 3 p.m. Friday to 7 p.m. Saturday, The lighting on Friday, Dec. 18 will take place at 3 p.m., and on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 8 p.m.

David Graham, son of the late Bill Graham, will assist Rabbi Yosef Langer in officiating.

Graham also has donated the new Bill Graham Menorah Web site, which will feature the story of Chanukah; an animated menorah; audio and video with Langer, Jane's Addiction, Adam Sandler and Bill Graham; Holocaust survivors' oral history; message board and celebrity chats.

"In the past, individuals had to come to San Francisco to experience our Chanukah festival," says Graham. "This year we are bringing the menorah festival to the rest of the world via our Web site."

The festival is presented by Chabad of San Francisco in association with Terry Pimsleur & Co. and produced by the Bill Graham Menorah Project.

For information, call (800) 45-Charity or visit the Web site at