Huge list of public menorah lightings around the Bay Area

And on the sixth night of Hanukkah, there were sea lions. And snow.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo is teaming up with the Chabad centers of Solano and Napa to host an adventurous Hanukkah celebration and menorah lighting on Dec. 21.

The Northern California Hanukkah Festival will feature edible dreidel decorating, an ice-sculpture menorah demonstration, Hanukkah music, kosher food for purchase and photos with Judah Maccabee. In addition, all of the park’s rides and wildlife shows will be included with admission; sledding down a giant snow hill will be an additional option from Nov. 28 through Jan. 4.

In Vallejo, families can go sledding and celebrate Hanukkah on Dec. 21. photo/six flags discovery kingdom

At 4:30 p.m., Rabbi Chaim Zaklos of Chabad of Solano County will officiate a menorah lighting ceremony in the park’s Sea Lion Stadium.

“We actually tried to get one of the sea lions to light the shamash,” Zaklos joked.

It was a Six Flags animal trainer who conceived of the Hanukkah bash, the first of what is hoped to be an annual event. Jennifer Martinez, who has worked with seals, sea lions and otters at the park for five years, is one of the few Jews on staff. In February, she pitched the idea of a public Hanukkah celebration to the park’s event staff.

“They were super stoked about it,” Martinez said.

Part of the proceeds will benefit the Bay Area Friendship Circle, a Jewish organization that pairs teenage volunteers with children with special needs. Friendship Circle staff will run the crafts tables.

The event will run from 2 to 9 p.m. at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, 1001 Fair-grounds Drive, Vallejo. As of early this week, approximately 500 tickets had been sold. They cost $28.69 and can be purchased online at www.sixflags.com/discoverykingdom. For more information, call Chabad in Solano at (707) 592-5300 or Napa at (707) 320-2348.

Other public lightings this year involve a steam train, at least two giant Lego menorahs and a group of performing dogs dressed as Hanukkah candles. All the following events focus on lighting the menorah, and they are free unless otherwise indicated.

San Francisco

Dec. 16-23. The popular Bill Graham menorah lightings, a staple since 1985, will take place all eight nights in Union Square. On the first night, guests are set to include Mayor Ed Lee, state Sen. Mark Leno and several local Jewish dignitaries. The sixth night is billed as Bill Graham Menorah Day: many former Graham colleagues will be on hand, kids craft activities will start at 2 p.m. and entertainment will be provided by Jerry’s Kosher Deli, singers from Everybody Is a Star, and the Olate Dogs — “America’s Got Talent” champions from 2012 — with each dog dressed up as a candle. At Union Square. Most lightings at 5 p.m., but see website for details. www.billgrahammenorah.com.

Bill Graham menorah lighting at Union Square photo/alan sheckter

Dec. 16. Rabbi Peretz Mochkin of North Beach Chabad will be lighting the menorah in Ghirardelli Square on the first night. At 900 North Point St., S.F. 5 p.m. www.ghirardellisq.com/events.


Dec. 16-23. The JCCSF is inviting children and families to celebrate each of the eight nights, beginning with story time at 4 p.m. followed by candlelighting and singing at 4:30 p.m. On Dec. 21, a Hanukkah version of “Saturdays Unplugged” from 4 to 6 p.m. will include a menorah lighting, a dreidel garden, storytelling, a concert by Saul Goodman’s Klezmer Band and treats (with cocktails for the adults). At JCCSF, 3200 California St., S.F. www.jccsf.org.

Dec. 17. Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco is holding two public lightings with Hanukkah treats. One is at 5:30 p.m. outside Books Inc. in Laurel Village, 3515 California St. The other is at 7 p.m. at Books Inc., 2275 Market St. (at 16th St.). www.emanuelsf.org/chanukah.

Dec. 17. Chanukah at NEMA is an event at a luxury apartment complex co-hosted by the SoMa Shul and Chabad of San Francisco. It includes a menorah lighting, music, latkes, sufganiyot and an open vodka bar. In the third-floor energy solarium of NEMA, 8 10th St., S.F. 6:30 to 10 p.m. (415) 668-6178 or www.chabadsf.org.

Dec. 19. “Chanukah at Chevra” menorah lighting will be followed by Kabbalat Shabbat and a Greek dinner. Also, a “latkes as you like them” bar, sufganiyot and a dreidel tournament. RSVP required. At Congregation Chevra Thilim, 751 25th Ave., S.F. Menorah lighting at 4:30 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m. $20-$25. www.sfshul.org.

Dec. 21. “Chanukah Wonderland” and menorah lighting sponsored by Chabad of Noe Valley. With children’s activities, live music and a magic show. At 24th Street near Sanchez, S.F. 3 to 5:30 p.m. (415) 902-0886.

Dec. 21. Chabad of Cole Valley lighting with juggling, face painting, music, coffee and refreshments. Help build and kindle a giant Lego menorah. At Grattan Playground, 1180 Stanyan St., S.F. 3 to 5 p.m. www.chabadcv.org.

Dec. 23. The Westfield San Francisco Centre is partnering with the Bill Graham Menorah Project to host a 6 p.m. lighting under the dome on level four. Rabbi Moshe Langer of Chabad of Pacific Heights will lead the event, which will include treats, children’s activities and music. Westfield Centre, 865 Market St., S.F. 5 p.m. www.chabadsf.org.

East Bay

Dec. 16. Chabad of Oakland and Piedmont is moving its popular annual menorah lighting from Splash Pad Park to a spot on the other side of the lake: the Lake Merritt Amphitheater. Elected officials and dignitaries are slated to attend. There will be hot drinks, chocolate gelt, latkes, jelly doughnuts and music. On 12th Street across from Kaiser Center. 6 p.m. www.bit.ly/oakland-lighting.

Dec. 16-23. The JCC of the East Bay’s community menorah lighting will take place all eight nights. At the Berkeley branch, 1414 Walnut St. 5:45 p.m. www.jcceastbay.org.

Dec. 16. Chabad of Fremont’s menorah lighting at a shopping center (near Nordstrom Rack) will include jelly doughnuts, cotton candy and free prizes. At Pacific Commons, 43440 Boscell Road, Fremont. 6 p.m. (510) 300-4090.

Chabad menorah lighting in Oakland

Dec. 16. The 10th annual “Chanukah Wonderland” at Stoneridge Shopping Center will include a public menorah lighting, face painting, a balloon artist, games for kids and live music. In the center court of the mall. 5:30 to 7 p.m. www.bit.ly/stoneridge-hanukkah.

Dec. 16, 17, 22. Three Chabad of Contra Costa County lightings, each at 6 p.m.: Dec. 16 at Whole Foods Market, 3502 Mt. Diablo Court, Lafayette; Dec. 17, with a giant Lego menorah and acrobats, at Streets of Brentwood mall, 2565 Sand Creek Road, Brentwood; Dec. 22 at Whole Foods Market, 100 Sunset Drive, San Ramon. www.jewishcontracosta.com.

Dec. 20. Nigunim Chorus’ sixth annual community Hanukkah celebration will feature a menorah lighting, singing, traditional Hanukkah food for sale and live music from multiple acts, including the chorus, the Adama Band and Rivka Amado. At the JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley. 7 p.m. $15 for adults, children free. (510) 528-8872 or [email protected].

Dec 20. Chabad of the Tri-Valley’s “Chanukah Under the Stars” features a public menorah lighting at Livermore’s Bankhead Theater. Includes music and treats. At 2400 First St., Livermore. 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. www.jewishtrivalley.com.

Dec. 21. Concert and all-day party for all ages, with noshes, activities and a folk music and sing-along concert with children’s performers Melita Silberstein and Isaac Zones. Menorah lighting at 4 p.m. At Afikomen Judaica, 3042 Claremont Ave., Berkeley. 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. $5 suggested donation. www.afikomen.com.

Dec. 21. Chabad of the East Bay will host a menorah lighting and the building of a menorah from canned goods (later to be donated). Music by the Ferris Wheels, face painting, balloons by Buki the Clown and a raffle. At CB2, 1730 Fourth St., Berkeley. 4:30 p.m. www.chabadberkeley.org.

Dec. 21. Chabad of Contra Costa and the Contra Costa Jewish Book & Arts Festival menorah lighting will include traditional foods, dreidels, children’s activities and a performance by the Red Panda Acrobats. In Civic Park, 1375 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek. 4 to 6 p.m. www.jfed.org/underonetent.

Dec. 21. Beyt Tikkun menorah lighting at 4:45 p.m. includes story of Hanukkah, latkes with sour cream and applesauce, music by Achi Ben-Shalom and other festivities. At Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Hall, 1606 Bonita Ave., Berkeley. 4 to 7 p.m. $10 for nonmembers. www.beyttikkun.org.

Dec. 23. “Chanukah on Ice.” Chabad of Contra Costa’s outdoor skating event with a menorah lighting on the ice. With Jewish music and a low-cost ($1-$2.50) kosher food concession. At Walnut Creek on Ice, 1265 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek. 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. $18 at the door, $15 in advance. www.bit.ly/ice-hanukkah.

North Bay

Dec. 16. Chabad of Solano County’s “Menorah on Main” lighting. With greetings from the mayor, juggling, crafts, latkes and music. At Town Square, downtown Vacaville. 5:30 p.m. www.jewishsolano.com.

Dec. 17. Annual lighting in Napa will feature refreshments, live music and a craft table for kids. At Napa Town Center. 5 p.m. www.jewishnapavalley.com.

Dec. 17. Chabad of Novato’s lighting features music, latkes, a raffle and juggling. At Whole Foods Market, 790 De Long Ave., Novato. 5 p.m. www.jewishnovato.com.

Dec. 19. The Russian River Jewish Community is holding a menorah lighting, potluck meal and dance party with music by Petaluma’s Jubilee Klezmer Ensemble. Bring blankets, socks, sweaters or sleeping bags for the Winter Warmth Distribution Drive for the Homeless. At Monte Rio Community Center, 20488 Highway 116 near the Rio Theater. 5:30 to 8 p.m. $8-$12. (707) 632-5546.

Dec. 16-22. Chabad of Sonoma County is hosting five lightings around the county. All start at 5 p.m., except Dec. 21, which begins at 4 p.m. The rundown: Dec. 16 at Oakville Grocery, 124 Matheson St., Healdsburg; Dec. 17 at Whole Foods, 201 W. Napa St., Sonoma; Dec. 18 at Pacific Market, 550 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol; Dec. 21 at Montgomery Village, 911 Village Court, Santa Rosa; and Dec. 22 at Oliver’s Market, 546 East Cotati Ave., Cotati. www.jewishsonoma.com.

Dec. 23. Hosted by Chabad of Solano County, the menorah lighting at the Jelly Belly Factory is returning for a fifth year. A giant jelly bean–filled menorah will be complemented by Mr. Jelly Belly dressed up as Judah Maccabee. At 1 Jelly Belly Lane, Fairfield. 4 to 7 p.m. www.JellyBelly.com.

Peninsula/South Bay

Dec. 16. Chabad of Sunnyvale presents a giant ice-menorah carving demonstration, followed at 6:30 p.m. by a giant ice-menorah lighting. With dreidels, sufganiyot and crafts. At Civic Center Plaza, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. 5:30 p.m. www.bit.ly/mview-lighting.

Lighting at the JCC in Palo Alto

Dec. 16. The 13th annual Burlingame lighting near the Apple store will include live music by Jonathan Bayer and hot latkes. At 240 Park Road, Burlingame. 6 to 7 p.m. www.chabadnp.com.

Dec. 16. Chabad MidPen is asking for can donations to help build a “can-orah.” Event includes acrobats, a DJ, latkes, jelly doughnuts and local dignitaries. Afterward, the canned goods will be donated to the food pantry at Jewish Family and Children’s Services. At Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway St., Redwood City. 5:30 p.m. www.chabadmidpen.com.

Dec. 17. Community Hanukkah celebration at Santana Row will feature a menorah lighting, dreidel decorating and a sing-along with Rick Recht. Co-sponsored by Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley and PJ Library, with participation of 15 other Jewish organizations. At Park Valencia, in front of Maggiano’s restaurant, 3055 Olin Ave., San Jose. 4 to 6 p.m. www.santanarow.com/events/menorah-lighting.

Dec. 18. “The Chanukah Train.” Menorah lighting at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk followed by a ride through town on a Roaring Camp Railroads train decorated for Hanukkah. Kosher refreshments from Chabad by the Sea, stories, games and more. Price includes choice of miniature gold, laser tag or arcade games. Departs at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. $22-$28. www.roaringcamp.com/events2.

Dec. 18. “Festival of Lights.” The Oshman Family JCC holds a community party with a menorah lighting, songs, dreidel games, latkes and jelly doughnuts. At Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 6 p.m. www.paloaltojcc.org.

Drew Himmelstein
Drew Himmelstein

Drew Himmelstein is a former J. reporter who writes about education, families and Jewish life. She lives with her husband and two sons.