The giant menorah in Union Square in San Francisco on the first night of Hanukkah, Dec. 10, 2020. (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)
The giant menorah in Union Square in San Francisco on the first night of Hanukkah, Dec. 10, 2020. (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)

Light in the darkness: Public menorah lightings around the Bay Area

The lighting of the menorah candles symbolizes a significant moment in Jewish history, reminding us that even a small flame can illuminate a dark world — a theme that might feel especially relevant in these times. And so, once again, we bring you our annual list of public menorah lightings around the Bay Area.

This year, Hanukkah begins Thursday, Dec. 7, and the eighth night falls on Thursday, Dec. 14.

This article is not an exhaustive list of Hanukkah events in the area — check out our events calendar for more. If you don’t see a menorah lighting in your area, consider reaching out to your local Chabad center; chances are, they’ll be hosting a lighting ceremony nearby.

East Bay

Thursday, Dec. 7

“Mor-anukkah” — Moroccan-themed Hanukkah party with full Moroccan dinner, henna tattoos, live music and discussion of Moroccan Hanukkah traditions presented by Rabbi Tsipora Gabai. Bring menorah and candles. Presented by New Lehrhaus and Urban Adamah. At Urban Adamah, 1151 Sixth St., Berkeley. 6-8 p.m. $24.

Alamo Plaza Menorah Lighting—Annual Hanukkah celebration with candle lighting, live music, balloon twisting, latkes and doughnuts.  Presented by Chabad of Contra Costa. At Alamo Plaza Shopping Center, Alamo. 5 p.m. Free. 

Friday, December 8

Shabbanukah at the Farm — Shabbat and Hanukkah celebration for families with kids 7 and under with crafts, storytelling, music by Octopretzel, movement, latkes, candle lighting and kid-friendly meal. Presented by Urban Adamah, Wilderness Torah and PJ Library. At Urban Adamah, 1151 Sixth St., Berkeley. 4-6 p.m. $9-$36, sliding scale.

Congregation B’nai Tikvah Hanukkah—Community-wide holiday celebration with potluck dinner, latkes, kids activities, spirit competition, Shabbat service, sufganiyot and communal menorah lighting. Bring hanukkiah and candles. At Congregation B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek. 5:30 p.m. Free, RSVP by Dec. 1.

Saturday, December 9

Ocho Candelas Para Mi: Feliz Januca — Latin Jewish Havdalah and Hanukkah celebration with candle lighting, singing, sufganiyot, pan dulce, dinner, hot chocolate and art projects with resident artist Raine Robichaud from the Museum of Children’s Art. Presented by Olamim. At private home in East Bay, RSVP for location. 3:30-6 p.m. $40-60 per family.

Sunday, December 10

East Contra Costa Hanukkah Festival — Community Hanukkah event with giant menorah lighting, live music, doughnuts, latkes, chocolate gelt, crafts, dreidel, games and more. Presented by Chabad of the Delta. At Brentwood Community Center, 35 Oak St., Brentwood. 4:30 p.m. Free.

Grand Menorah Lighting—Annual Hanukkah celebration with candle lighting, live music, entertainment, latkes, doughnuts, face painting, crafts and more. Presented by Chabad of Contra Costa. At Events Plaza, 1275 Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek. 4 p.m. Free.

San Francisco

Thursday, December 7

JCCSF Candlelighting — Light the community menorah with live music, crafts and fried treats. Daily through Dec. 14. At JCCSF, 3200 California St., S.F. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Free.

Hanukkah at Thrive City — Community menorah lighting at the home of the Golden State Warriors. With latkes, music and hands-on activities. Presented by Thrive City at Chase Center, Value Culture and JCCSF. At Thrive City, Chase Center, S.F. 4-7 p.m. Free.Thursday, December 7

Lakeside Landing Menorah Lighting—Hanukkah event with crafts, dreidel, latkes, hot chocolate and menorah lighting. Presented by Chabad of the Neighborhood. At Lakeside Landing, 2504 Ocean Ave., S.F. 4:45-6:15 p.m. Free.

Saturday, December 9

Power of Light — Hanukkah gathering in honor of Mizrahi heritage month with candle lighting ceremony, music and Sephardic kosher food by Dina’s Kosher Catering. With the Consulate General of Israel and JIMENA. At Magain David Sephardim Congregation, 351 4th Ave., S.F. 6:30 p.m. Free.

Sunday, December 10

Bill Graham Menorah Day — 48th annual menorah lighting in Union Square San Francisco with dreidel house, kids crafts and live music by Isaac Zones and Shamati. Lighting each night of Hanukkah Dec. 7-14, times and programs vary. Presented by Bill Graham Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund and Chabad of SF. 2-6 p.m. Free.

Glowing Hanukkah Pop-Up at Ghirardelli Square — Holiday event with candle lighting, singing, dancing, dreidel, hands-on crafts, fresh doughnuts and latkes, glowing Hanukkah swag and live glowing piano performance. Wear light-up, glittery or glow-in-the-dark outfits. Presented by JCCSF. At Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point St., F301, S.F. 3-6 p.m. Free.

Hanukkah Street Party—Outdoor festival with freshly fried doughnuts and latkes, S.F. Fire Department parachute gelt drop, live music, “Rockets Into Roses” menorah lighting and bounce house. Presented by Chabad of Cole Valley, Alma Street between Shrader and Cole streets. 3-5 p.m. Free, registration requested.

Monday, December 11

Castro Menorah Lighting—Hanukkah event with music, singing, dancing, jelly doughnuts, a giant dreidel and jumbo menorah lighting. Bring your own menorah. Presented by Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, Castro Merchants Association and the Castro Community Benefit district. At Jane Warner Plaza at Castro, Market & 17th St., S.F. 6 p.m. Free.

Tuesday, December 12

Glow in the Dark Menorah Lighting—Hanukkah event with 9-foot-tall glowing menorah, singing and latkes. Presented by Chabad of Cole Valley, entrance of Golden Gate Park, Haight and Stanyan streets. 6:30 p.m. Free.

North Bay

Thursday, December 7

Windsor Holiday Celebration — Multicultural holiday celebration with cookie decorating, children’s activities, holiday world market, food, gifts, youth performances, PJ Library and menorah lighting. Presented by JCC Sonoma County and others. At Windsor Town Green, 701 McClelland Dr., Windsor. 5-8 p.m. Free.

Corte Madera Hanukkah Celebration — Community Hanukkah celebration with giant menorah, gelt, music, latkes, doughnuts, soup, kids activities, crafts and giant light-up dreidel. At Town Center Corte Madera, 400 Tamal Plaza, Corte Madera. 4-6 p.m. Free.

Silverado Country Club Menorah Lighting—Congregation Beth Shalom presents first night Hanukkah event with menorah lighting, hot drinks and baked goods. At Silverado Country Club, 1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa. 5:30-6:30 p.m. Free, RSVP by Dec. 6.

First Night Lighting—Community gathering with candle lighting. At Healdsburg Plaza, Healdsburg Ave. and Matheson St., Healdsburg. 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 10

Novato Grand Menorah Lighting — Hanukkah celebration with grand menorah lighting, drone gelt drop, doughnuts, latkes, music and more. At Novato City Hall, 901 Sherman Ave., Novato. 5 p.m. Free.

Tuesday, December 12

Menorah Lighting and Party — Community Hanukkah party with latkes, doughnuts, music, gelt, dreidel contest and more. At Town Center Corte Madera, 400 Tamal Plaza, Corte Madera. 5 p.m. Free.

Thursday, December 14

“Cheers to Hanukkah” — Holiday-themed cocktail making workshop for adults and storytelling by Maggid Jhos Singer. Plus, separate kid-friendly program with dreidel games, menorah crafting and latke tasting. With mocktail option and menorah lighting. At Osher Marin JCC, 200 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael. 5:30-7:30 p.m. $25 single, $36 couple, $54 family.

Novato Hanukkah Party — Community holiday celebration. At Chabad of Novato, 695 De Long Ave., Novato. 6 p.m. Free.

Last Night Community Menorah Lighting—Hanukkah event with latkes, hot chocolate, music and outdoor menorah lighting. At Congregation Shir Shalom, 252 West Spain St., Sonoma. 4:30 p.m.

Friday, December 15

Hanukkah Shabbat Dinner — Community Shabbat dinner and Hanukkah celebration. At Chabad Jewish Center of Petaluma, 205 Keller St., #101, Petaluma. 5:30 p.m. $25 adults, $15 kids.

South Bay / Peninsula

Wednesday, November 29

Community Hanukkah Party — Congregation Emeth and BookSmart present Hanukkah party with stories, songs, crafts, dreidels, snacks and more. At BookSmart, 421 Vineyard Town Center, Morgan Hill. 4:30-5:30 p.m. Free.

Friday, December 8

Kol-chella Hanukkah Weekend — An a capella Shabbat Dec. 8 with dinner, dessert, musical games and activities with the Pella singers. Hanukkah party Dec. 9. Pella performs traditional holiday tunes and original parodies of popular music. With Havdalah, candlelighting, pizza, dessert, crafts, kids activities and concert. At Congregation Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Ave., Palo Alto. 6-8 p.m. $18; kindergarten-7th grade, $10; babies-transitional kindergarten, free. RSVP by Nov. 30.

Saturday, December 9

Candles, Chords and Cabernet — Havdalah ceremony, Hanukkah candlelighting, wine and cheese. With live music from Saul Kaye and Sigal Vardi performing a mix of Israeli, American and Jewish songs. At Oshman Family JCC, Room E104, 3921 Fabian Way Palo Alto. 7:30-9 p.m. $10.

Hanukkah Lights N Strikes — Grand menorah lighting, crafts, live music and refreshments. Presented by Chabad of Sunnyvale. At Homestead Lanes, 20990 Homestead Road, Cupertino. 7:30-9 p.m. Free admission, $36 per bowler, or $110 per lane.

Hanukkah Beit Cafe — Havdalah followed by coffeehouse-style social gathering with espresso, cappuccino, drip coffee, tea, sufganiyot, art and poetry. Email [email protected] to join talent list and share music, slam poetry and short expressive readings. At Congregation Beth David, 19700 Prospect Road, Saratoga. 6-9 p.m. Free, register by Dec. 7.

Half Moon Bay Hanukkah—Holiday program with dreidel games, sing along, live music, latkes, sufganiyot and dinner. Presented by Coastside Jewish Community. Location provided with registration. Register by Dec. 7. $18, kids free.

Sunday, December 10

Russian-Speaking Hanukkah — Menorah lighting and holiday gatherin g with storytelling, dancing, crafts, treats and more. For Russian speaking families.  At Addison-Penzak JCC auditorium, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. 4 p.m.

Hanukkah Lights On Ice — Grand ice menorah lighting with live music by Saul Kaye Band, dreidel mascot, arts and crafts, “Menorah of Kindness,” latkes, jelly doughnuts and gelt drop. Presented by Chabad of North Peninsula. RSVP for location. 5 p.m. Free.

Latkepalooza — PJCC’s annual Hanukkah celebration with family activities, Israeli dance, Hanukkah Zumba, bounce house, arts and crafts, PJ Library story time, photo booth, latkes, jelly doughnuts, cocktails, candle lighting and singing. At PJCC, 800 Foster City Blvd., Foster City. 3-5 p.m. Free, registration required.

Tuesday, December 12

Foster City Community candle lighting — Hanukkah celebration with candle lighting, doughnuts, dreidels, music, latkes, gelt, balloons and more. Presented by Peninsula Sinai, Peninsula JCC, Wornick Jewish Day School, Peninsula Temple Beth El, Center for Children and Youth/Parents Place and PJ Library. At Leo J. Ryan Park Amphitheater, 650 Shell Blvd., Foster City. 7-8 p.m. Free, registration required.

Vodka, Latkes and Poker — Hanukkah social with poker game, latkes, vodka and wine. At Congregation Beth David, 19700 Prospect Road, Saratoga. 6-9 p.m. $20, RSVP by Dec. 10. Proceeds benefit the men’s club. [email protected]

Thursday, December 14

Hanukkah on Main Street — Community candle lighting. Presented by Addison-Penzak JCC. At Los Gatos Civic Center front lawn, Los Gatos. 5-6 p.m. Free.

Lea Loeb
(Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Lea Loeb

Lea Loeb is engagement reporter at J. She previously served as editorial assistant.