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Faithful Gather In SF Union Square To Light Menorah, Reflect On Israel

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- For the first time in 39 years, Christmas Eve coincides with the first night of Hanukkah.

A Bay Area rabbi used the lighting ceremony of the big menorah in Union Square to condemn the United Nations.

Chanukah is the Jewish holiday is known as the festival of lights.

On Union square people lit candles while Jewish leaders lit the menorah. It is a time of celebration and rededication to the faith, and this year, comes at a poignant time for those sympathetic to Israel.

"The world needs a lot of light and a little light can push away a lot of darkness," says Rabbi Yobsef Langet.

The first eight nights of the celebration comes on the heels of a controversial vote by the UN, passing a resolution criticizing Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will reassess his country's role with the UN as a result.

"Israeli settlements are very important for the life and the vitality and the survival of Israel," said Langet.

Those sentiments set the stage for Saturday night's program. Jewish leaders made known they were not happy about the vote, or the United State's decision to abstain from it. But despite the result, they say, they will use it as yet another reason to rededicate themselves to their faith.

George Zimmer, former spokesperson for The Mens Warehouse was also at the lighting ceremony.

"We have a time now where there is a lot of dissension and polarity, both in the country and the world, and this is a symbol of how people can come together," he said.

Israel took diplomatic action against the countries that sponsored the U.N. resolution, withdrawing its ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal. Israel also canceled all of its aid programs to Senegal.

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