Huge lineup of public menorah lightings this year

When Chanukah begins on the night of Saturday, Dec. 8, the holiday will usher in a host of local public menorah lightings that will contain both traditional elements and new twists.

The 2011 Bill Graham menorah in San Francisco’s Union Square photo/brian webster

On the first night, the singer Matisyahu will assist with the 38th annual lighting of the menorah at Union Square in San Francisco. After he helps light the 25-foot menorah at 7 p.m., he will dart off to the Masonic Auditorium where he will perform an acoustic set starting at 8 p.m.

Some menorah lightings are first-time events, such as one in Novato, while other traditions are coming into their own: At least three local events will include ice skating, a newly emerging Chanukah favorite.

Sweets and chocolates are also a big draw this time of year: One menorah lighting will occur at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, and another will have a “Candy Land” theme.

What follows is a list of events that focus mainly on the lighting of a menorah. They are free unless otherwise indicated.


East Bay

Dec. 9. Oakland’s fourth annual menorah lighting at Splash Pad Park will take place at 5:30 p.m. Music, doughnuts and hot drinks will round out the evening. Splash Park is across from the Grand Lake Theater at Grand and Lake Park avenues, Oakland.

Dec. 9. Chabad of Solano County’s fourth annual Menorah on Main lighting. With Jeremy the Juggler, greetings from the mayor, arts and crafts, latkes, music and more, 4 p.m. at the Vacaville Town Square, Main and Merchant streets.

Dec. 10-14. Community lightings will take place from 5:30 to 5:45 p.m. for five straight days at the two JCC of the East Bay branches: 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley and 5811 Racine Street, Oakland.

Rabbi Chaim Zaklos of Chabad of Solano County at the 2010 lighting at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield photo/ creative commons-jelly belly candy company

Dec. 11. At the Piedmont Menorah Lighting and Candy Land Party, participants will build a candy menorah together, decorate doughnuts, play dreidel with chocolate gelt and finally light the candy menorah they’ve built together. At the Piedmont Community Hall (outside), 711 Highland Ave. 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 11. Afikomen Judaica will host a menorah lighting and Chanukah party with music and nosh starting at 4 p.m. at Afikomen Judaica, 3042 Claremont Ave., Berkeley. Menorah lighting at 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 12. Chanukah on Ice will take place at the Walnut Creek Civic Park Ice Rink, 1365 Civic Dr., from 7 to 9 p.m. With a menorah lighting, Jewish music and crafts for kids. $14-$16.

Dec. 13. A Chanukah Wonderland celebration at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield will begin at 4 p.m. with a factory tour and children’s crafts and face painting. A giant Jelly Belly–filled menorah will be lit at 4:30 p.m. followed by a bubble show and a performance by Choni G., a Jewish pop singer from South Africa. At the Jelly Belly Visitor Center, 1 Jelly Belly Lane, Fairfield. 4 to 7 p.m.

Dec. 13. The JCC of the East Bay will host a Chanukah celebration for adults that will include a candle lighting, latkes, workshops and dancing. At 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley. From 7 to 9 p.m. $5-$10. 21 and over.


San Francisco and Peninsula

Dec. 8-15. Matisyahu will participate in lighting of the Bill Graham menorah at Union Square on the first night of Chanukah at 7 p.m. The next day’s festivities will include a Chanukah skating party at the Union Square ice rink starting at 3 p.m. before the menorah is lit at 5 p.m. Other lighting times: 5 p.m. from Dec. 10 to Dec. 13; 3 p.m. on Dec. 14; 7 p.m. on Dec.15. At Union Square, S.F.

Dec. 11. Cole Valley Chabad will have a fire show and menorah lighting at Grattan playground at the intersection of Stanyan and Alma streets in San Francisco. There will also be live music, latkes and arts and crafts from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 11. This year’s lighting in Burlingame will feature a fire juggler, live music and hot latkes from 6 to 7 p.m. The menorah lighting will be at 6:30 p.m. At 240 Park Road.


North Bay

Dec. 9. Chabad of Mill Valley, Brandeis Hillel Day School and Congregation Kol Shofar will join together for a menorah lighting and Chanukah celebration complete with a latke bar, music and gelt. Donations of winter clothing to Jewish Family and Children’s Services are encouraged. Located near Nordstrom and Boudin SF at the Village at Corte Madera, 1618 Redwood Highway. 5 p.m.

Jeffrey Ross lights the menorah at the Chabad of Cole Valley Chanukah celebration at Grattan playground in 2011.

Dec. 9. City manager Michael Frank will light the menorah at Novato’s first public menorah lighting. Outgoing Mayor Denise Athens and radio host Gil Gross will also speak. The 5 p.m. event will include latkes, a raffle and music. At Whole Foods Market, 790 De Long Ave., Novato.

Dec. 9-13. Five menorah lighting events around Sonoma County will have live music, latkes and prizes: Dec. 9 at Whole Foods Market, 201 West Napa St., Sonoma; Dec. 10 at Montgomery Village, 911 Village Court, Santa Rosa; Dec. 11 at Oakville Grocery, 124 Matheson St., Healdsburg; Dec. 12 at Oliver’s Market, 546 East Cotati Ave., Cotati; Dec. 13 at Pacific Market, 550 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol. All begin at 5 p.m.

Dec. 11. A menorah lighting with latkes, music and jelly doughnuts will take place at the Napa Town Center Rotunda, 1290 Napa Town Center at 5 p.m.


South Bay

Dec. 9. Multiple South Bay Jewish organizations will join together for a Chanukah celebration at Santana Row in San Jose. Each have a booth, and starting at 4 p.m. they will have treats, games and crafts projects available for kids. At 4:30 p.m. various children’s groups will perform. After storytelling and more music, the event will conclude with candle lighting. Santa Row is at 377 Santana Row, San Jose. all_events.

Dec. 13. Chanukah on Ice will take place at Down-town Ice in San Jose. It includes a menorah lighting, kosher food and Jewish music. At 120 South Market St. $8-$15 individually, $55-$60 max per household.

Note: For additonal Chanukah listings click here.

George Altshuler
George Altshuler

George Altshuler is the rabbinic intern at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco. He is on track to be ordained from Hebrew Union College in 2023. In 2012 and 2013, he worked as a calendar editor and staff writer in J.’s newsroom.