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Best Ways To Celebrate Hanukkah In The Bay Area

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is on its way. There are many ways to enjoy the holiday throughout the Bay Area, and most are free to attend. Here are five fun Hanukkah happenings to help celebrate with the community closest to you.

Chanukah Festival of Lights in Union Square
Bill Graham Menorah Project
901 Mission St., Suite 105
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 753-0910

Begun in 1975 when community leaders came together to create the first big public menorah and Hanukkah celebration outside of Israel, the San Francisco "Mama Menorah" is a public celebration that has morphed into a global phenomenon. There are now large menorahs lit in over 500 cities worldwide. The 2012 festival introduces dramatic, high-tech sky beams to the menorah lighting. See a beam of light shoot straight up, over a mile high, into the evening sky during each night of Hanukkah. People of all faiths are welcome to join this exciting event. Check for lighting times and further information.


Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
3200 California St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 292-1200

Celebrate Hanukkah with family and friends at beautiful JCCSF, the oldest Jewish center on the west coast. Join in the many fun planned festivities for all ages. Begin with the Hanukkah Candle Lighting ceremony on December 8, which continues through December 14. The Hanukkah Shabbat Celebration and Émigré Hanukkah and New Year Celebration are free community events. Darkness & Light: A Hanukkah Meditation Retreat is an all day event on December 9. It is $50 for members and $60 for the general public. Check the center website for an expanded event schedule and complete information.

Related: Go Where North Bay Locals Eat, Shop And Play


Osher Marin JCC
200 N. San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 444-8000

This full-service community center will host the largest Hanukkah Festival of Lights celebration in Marin County, and one of the best in the Bay Area, on Sunday December 9. Included is the center's festive Artisan Marketplace, helping to make the joyous holiday extra special for anyone looking for distinctive art pieces. Come for the family connections, delicious food for purchase, games, crafts and shows, Hanukkah stories and songs, performances, artisan marketplace, special kid zone and of course the Hanukkah show. Everyone is welcome to this free event that runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. See the center website for a full celebration schedule.


Chabad Jewish Center
2312 Bethards Drive, Suite 2
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
(707) 577-0277

Celebrate the holiday with the Chabad Center and Jewish Sonoma. The center invites you to celebrate Hanukkah at Sonoma County's menorah lighting celebrations. This is a multi-location event over the long holiday, with menorah candle lightings at several venues. The menorah lighting schedule, which all occur at 5 p.m., includes the Whole Foods Market in Sonoma on December 9, the Village Court at Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa on December 10, Oakville Grocery in Healdsburg on December 11, Oliver's Market in Cotati on December 12 and Pacific Market in Sebastopol on December 13. All venues have holiday food, live music and games. Also, enjoy the Young Adults Chanukah Party for ages 21 to 40 on December 8 at the Chabad Center. Latkes, beer, dreidels and doughnuts will be provided. There is no charge for this event but donations are appreciated.


Peninsula Jewish Community Center
800 Foster City Blvd.
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 212-7522

The Peninsula JCC is an excellent locale to learn about Jewish life, culture and holidays. Enjoy the festivities at Latkepalooza, a community-wide free annual Hanukkah celebration. Dance throughout the afternoon to live music while the kids get involved with crafts and games. Additional activities include a Hanukkah gift shop, food and latkes. Prepare for Hanukkah by learning how to make your own candles, dreidels, gifts and sweets during Latkepalooza from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on December 9.

Related: 2012 San Francisco Holiday Theater Preview

Melanie Graysmith is a freelance writer and artist based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. Melanie is a member of an independent filmmaking group and aims to spin her stories into film. Her work can be found at

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