Rabbi Yosef Langer of Chabad of S.F. lights the Bill Graham menorah in Union Square in 2014. (Photo/Natalie Schrik)
Rabbi Yosef Langer of Chabad of S.F. lights the Bill Graham menorah in Union Square in 2014. (Photo/Natalie Schrik)

Safe menorah lightings to brighten Hanukkah around the Bay

Updated Dec. 10, 9:30 a.m.

A drive-through Hanukkah wonderland. Individually wrapped latkes. Socially distanced public menorah lightings. Yes, local Jewish organizations have had to take some precautions this year to ensure safe community gatherings for the Festival of Lights.

But nothing will stop the annual lighting of the menorahs.

Many of the events in these listings are in person and outdoors, unless noted, and include some sort of menorah lighting. All are free unless noted. Information about Hanukkah parties and other events can be found in our regular events calendar.

The first night of Hanukkah this year is after sundown on Dec. 10, and the eighth night will be on Dec. 17.


San Francisco

Bill Graham Menorah Project
On the 45th anniversary of the first Union Square lighting in 1975, the giant, 25-foot tall menorah will be aglow every night of Hanukkah, and the public is invited to view the event online each evening. The lightings will be 5-6 p.m. on Dec. 10, 12 and 14-17; 3-4 p.m. on Dec. 11 (Shabbat); and 3-6 p.m. on Dec. 13 for Bill Graham Menorah Day.

NorCal Virtual Hanukkah Live
Northern California Chabads present a virtual concert by the Maccabeats and show menorah lightings from Sacramento, S.F.’s Union Square and the Golden Gate Bridge. 6-7 p.m. Dec. 14.

Ghirardelli Square Hanukkah Glow and Go
Presented by the JCC of San Francisco, this event will feature free party kits for pickup (advance registration required), and fried foods for take-home. 3-6 p.m. Dec. 12. At Ghirardelli Square. Advance registration requested.

Healing Light of Hanukkah
In this virtual event, S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services invites the community to “explore how the light of Hanukkah brightens up even the darkest of times.” There will be stories, teachings, songs, humor and a ritual lighting — all on Zoom. 2-3 p.m. Dec. 16.

JCC Nightly Menorah Lighting
Join the JCC of San Francisco on Facebook as a giant menorah is lit each evening with Rabbi Batshir Torchio and Maggid Jhos Singer. 5:30 p.m. Through Dec. 17. 

“Let There Be Light”
Congregation Sha’ar Zahav in S.F. presents daily virtual lightings with different activities each night, including art projects, storytelling and yoga. Registration required. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 10-17. 


East Bay

Hanukkah On the Lake
Chabad of Oakland will present a fire show, latkes, sufganiyot, gelt, games and a menorah lighting. 4:30 p.m. Dec. 10. At Lake Merritt Amphitheater, Lake Merritt Blvd. between 12th Street and First Avenue, Oakland. Registration requested.

Celebration for Young Children
A virtual Hanukkah party aimed at kids ages 1 to 5, this event is organized by Jewish Gateways, an open community that promotes Jewish exploration and connection. No Jewish knowledge or experience necessary. There will be a menorah lighting, singing, dancing, storytelling and an art project (supplies available for pickup at several East Bay locations). 10-11 a.m. Dec. 13. $20 per family. Advance registration requested.

Hanukkah Extravaganza
Temple Beth Hillel in Richmond presents candlelighting, music and a Hanukkah trivia quiz online. 5:30-7 p.m. Dec. 13. 

Lighting and Concert
Chabad of Fremont’s seventh annual giant-menorah lighting will feature a drive-in concert with rock band Moshav, plus jelly doughnuts and other Hanukkah treats. 5:30 p.m. Dec. 14. At Chabad of Fremont, 220 Yerba Buena Place, Fremont. Limited space, registration requested.


North Bay

Achi Ben Shalom Concert
Chabad of Sonoma County presents singer-songwriter Achi Ben Shalom playing music for all ages, with the lighting of a large menorah and individually wrapped Hanukkah treats. 4 p.m. Dec. 13. At Montgomery Village, 911 Village Court, Santa Rosa.

Hanukkah Drive-Through Experience
Drive through Chabad of Petaluma’s “marvelous Hanukkah wonderland” and see a 9-foot menorah, a dancing dreidel, magic, fire-juggling, a balloon artist and circus entertainers. Plus individually wrapped latkes, doughnuts and gelt. Open 4:30 to 6 p.m. Dec. 13, last entry at 5:30 p.m. Free with RSVP. At Sonoma-Marin Fair, 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma.

Hanukkah Drive-Through Celebration
JCC Sonoma County, PJ Library Bay Area and Congregation Beth Ami present an interactive family event, including drive-through storytelling, menorah lighting, music and Hanukkah craft gift bags and snacks, such as sufganiyot and hot chocolate. Organizers suggest decorating your car for Hanukkah and bringing a canned food item for the Redwood Empire Food Bank. Register in advance for one of two time slots, 5-5:30 p.m. or 6:15-7 p.m. Dec. 13. At Congregation Beth Ami, 4676 Mayette Ave., Santa Rosa.

Drive-In Menorah Lighting
Chabad of Novato presents a menorah lighting you can enjoy from your car. Featuring music, latkes, doughnuts and a video. 4 p.m. Dec. 13. At Hamilton Community Center parking lot, 503 Palm Drive, Novato.

Corte Madera Menorah Lighting
Chabad of Corte Madera presents an in-person lighting with Covid-19 protocols observed and individually packaged food served. 10- 11 a.m. Dec. 13. Town Park Playground, Pixley Avenue, Corte Madera.


Peninsula and South Bay

“Hanu-kar Outdoor Cinema”
This drive-in experience includes a menorah lighting and a screening of the Disney Hanukkah movie “Full Court Miracle.” Presented by Peninsula JCC, Peninsula Sinai, Peninsula Temple Beth El and Wornick day school. Parking lot opens at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 10; event ends 8 p.m. PJCC, 800 Foster City Blvd., Foster City. Registration required. 

Cultivating and Embodying the Light Within
Peninsula JCC presents virtual Hanukkah-themed yoga, meditation for light led by Rabbi Lavey Derby, and candlelighting and gazing meditation. Ages 18 and up. 5-7 p.m. Dec. 17. Registration required. 

Drive-In Hanukkah
Chabad of North Peninsula is presenting a fifth-night gala with live music by Saul Kaye, a juggling and light show, a dreidel mascot, jelly doughnuts and two menorah lightings. 5-5:45 p.m. and 6:45-7:30 p.m. Dec. 14. Location given with required RSVP.

IllumiNation: National Virtual Hanukkah Celebration
Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto has organized this online event and invited Conservative synagogues across the nation to “make the eighth night bright.” In addition to a menorah lighting, local singer-songwriter Neshama Carlebach will perform and author A.J. Jacobs (“The Year of Living Biblically”) will speak. 5:30-6:30 p.m. Dec. 17. Zoom registration required.

Latke-pa-Zoom-sa
Peninsula community’s virtual candlelighting and sing-along is led by musician Isaac Zones. For all ages. 5:30-6 p.m. Dec. 13. Registration required. 

Parking Lot Hanukkah Celebration
Congregation Sinai and the Addison-Penzak JCC present a professional juggling light show and visual Poi performance, as well as songs, gelt and candlelighting, all viewed from your car. 6 p.m. Dec. 15. Congregation Sinai, 1532 Willowbrae Ave., San Jose, CA. Free. Advance registration required. 

Do you know of a community menorah lighting event not listed here? Send your event information to [email protected] to be included here and in our Dec. 11 print issue.

Rebecca Landau
Rebecca Landau

Rebecca Landau was J.'s editorial assistant from 2019-2021.