These colorful Hanukkah candles are among this year's offerings at the Women of Isaiah Gift Shop in Lafayette.
These colorful Hanukkah candles are among this year's offerings at the Women of Isaiah Gift Shop in Lafayette.

Don’t get burned! How and where to get Hanukkah candles in the Bay Area

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Attention holiday shoppers: There’s good news on the Hanukkah candle front!

Bay Area shops have a plentiful supply — from your basic, serve-the-purpose inexpensive sticks to lovely, hand-dipped tapers from Israel. Both paraffin and beeswax candles are widely available in, literally, all stripes and colors. No supply chain shortages to be found.

Even better, most Judaica shops are once again safely open for in-person shopping, though online is still an option. After last year’s pandemic shutdowns, store owners and sisterhood volunteers who run synagogue shops are happy to open their doors and assist shoppers in selecting not only candles, but menorahs, gifts, gelt and festive items for the home.

So, where to start?

In San Francisco, Dayenu Judaica at the JCCSF is gearing up for a bright Festival of Lights. “I think all of my customers are aware that Hanukkah is early this year,” said owner Hiroko Rosen.

Hand-dipped Hanukkah candles from Israel on display at Dayenu, the Judaica shop at the JCCSF.
Hand-dipped Hanukkah candles from Israel on display at Dayenu, the Judaica shop at the JCCSF.

Even so, she is prepared for last-minute shoppers and believes she has an ample supply that will last all eight nights. The shop is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. After Hanukkah begins at sundown Nov. 28, the shop will return to being closed on Sundays.

Dayenu offers hand-dipped candles from Tsfat, Israel, in wax and beeswax, as well as many other varieties, with prices ranging from $2.50 to around $20 per box. Items can be purchased in the store or by calling (415) 563-6563. Rosen will wrap and mail, if requested.

In Berkeley, Afikomen Judaica is also welcoming customers. “We love people to come in,” said Nell Mahgel-Friedman, who owns the shop with her rabbi husband, Chaim. Customers can also shop online, and there’s even curbside pickup.

A warning: Browsing can take awhile. “We have an amazing selection,” Mahgel-Friedman said, “from $2.99 standard Hanukkah candles to beeswax taper candles at $29.95.” Beeswax is especially popular, she added. “It’s a renewable resource, it burns clean and has a beautiful glow.” She also sells a beeswax candle-making kit for kids (or adults who want to make their own).

DIY Beeswax Hanukkah Candle Making Kit available at Afikomen
DIY Beeswax Hanukkah Candle Making Kit available at Afikomen.

If paraffin wax, a petroleum product, is your preference, there are lots of choices — from standard white, to blue and white, rainbow, aqua and purple.

Alternatively, if you’re up for something completely different, try oil cups with cotton wicks. “It’s one of my favorite things to turn people on to,” Mahgel-Friedman said. “You can even use olive oil from your kitchen. It’s a soft, warm glow, and you can control how long you want it to glow by how much oil you put in.”

She carries an oil starter kit, or items can be purchased separately. “We love to show people how to do it,” said Mahgel-Friedman, whose shop is closed on Mondays and Saturdays. For more information, call (510) 655-1977 or go to afikomen.com.

In Contra Costa County, the Women of Isaiah Gift Shop, at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, is open by appointment only, and only on Sundays, with online shopping on its website. But Kim Drucker, who pretty much runs things single-handedly, will go the extra mile for customers.

“If people call me, I will meet them, and I will deliver in Lafayette, Moraga and the Orinda area. I just drive over and leave it on their doorstep.”

Our buyer is Israeli. She brought home an entire suitcase.

This is one volunteer who truly takes her work seriously. “I try to beat Amazon,” she said. “This is my life!”

Though some candles have already sold out, the selection remains broad. “We have a lot of beautiful candles from Tsfat,” Drucker said. “Our buyer is Israeli. She brought home an entire suitcase” of candles for the shop.

Proceeds benefit Jewish education programs in the Temple Isaiah community and beyond. The shop is run by volunteers, and Drucker took over in 2008. “I’ll just be doing it til I can’t,” she said. To reach her, leave a message at the temple office at (925) 283-8575.

At the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, the Women of Rodef Sholom Judaica Gift Shop is well prepared to fill menorahs, said buyer Ingrid Tolson. “We have a good supply of candles on hand,” she said, noting that the shop “stocked up beforehand” just in case.

Among the many options: textured, silver, decorative candles; multicolored candles from Tsfat; honeycomb beeswax candles; and organic vegetable wax candles. One can even find pink “Chanukah for a Cause” candles, with a portion of the proceeds going to Sharsheret, a national nonprofit supporting women and families facing breast and ovarian cancer.

Organic Vegetable Wax Hanukkah candles and Chanukah for a Cause candles, both available at the Women of Rodef Shalom gift shop
Organic vegetable wax Hanukkah candles and “Chanukah for a Cause” candles, both available at the Women of Rodef Sholom Judaica Gift Shop.

The shop also carries a plethora of Hanukkah items, even Hanukkah baby onesies, Tolson said. Sales at the shop, which is closed on weekends, benefit the sisterhood programs and the overall community at Congregation Rodef Sholom. For hours and other information, visit the website or call (415) 640-7868.

In Petaluma, the gift shop at B’nai Israel Jewish Center has Hanukkah hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., but only through Nov. 19. To arrange for in-person shopping, or for additional inquiries, visit the website or call manager Erica Stuart at (707) 762-0340.

In Santa Rosa, there’s “a huge supply of candles — regulars, tapers, different colors,” said Denise Harrison at Congregation Shomrei Torah, where a compact shop near the temple office is run by office staff. It’s open only about 20 hours a week, including around religious school hours, but employees have a key. Call (707) 578-5519 for details.

In Palo Alto, the Oshman Family JCC promises to have candles for sale at the front desk of building A. Call (650) 223-8700 for details.

Elsewhere, Mollie Stone’s Markets carries Hanukkah candles in each of its nine Bay Area stores from Palo Alto to Sausalito. Piedmont Grocery and Rockridge Market Hall, both in Oakland, also stock Hanukkah candles.

Places you might not expect to find Hanukkah candles are selling them, too, such as Bed Bath & Beyond (both in-store and online) and Anthropologie (online only).

And don’t forget to check your neighborhood mom-and-pop shops: Even little Fairfax Variety has Hanukkah candles, both wax and beeswax.


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Liz Harris

Liz Harris is a J. contributor. She was J.'s culture editor from 2012-2018.