Bay Area Jews celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah Sunday with lighting of the first candle on a 25-foot tall mahogany menorah in San Francisco Union Square.

The San Francisco tradition was the brainchild of rock and roll concert promoter Bill Graham.

In 1975, Rabbi Chaim Drizin, founder of the Chabad movement in Northern California and Zev Putterman, then program director at KQED approached promoter Bill Graham with a desire to reach out to the Jewish community.

Bill Graham

The concept that came out of that meeting was a public menorah lighting for the city of San Francisco. Bill Graham offered to donate the construction of a twenty-two foot tall mahogany menorah through his company Bill Graham Presents.

This would serve as the catalyst that would place the first public menorah lighting in Union Square, San Francisco, December 1975.

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE.

Olive oil was needed for the menorah in the Second Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night.

But there was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah.

An eight day festival was declared by the Jewish sages to commemorate this miracle.

Union Square in San Francisco is located at Powell and Geary Streets.

Sunday December 21 Union Square Schedule

Live music with ” sea & the Prophets” 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Dreidel House – Arts & crafts 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Each child will be able to light their own Menorah.

Ceremony with Local dignitaries begins at 4:15 p.m.

Actual lighting at 5:00 p.m.

The first candle will be a tribute to Rabbi & Rebitzen Gavriel Holtzberg.

Monday December 22 through Thursday December 25

The Ceremony will start at 4:30 p.m. and the Menorah will be lit at 5:00 p.m. each night along with song and dance

Friday December 16

The ceremony will start at 2:30 p.m. and the Menorah will be lit 3:00 p.m. along with song and dance

Saturday December 27

The Ceremony will start at 7:00 p.m. and the Menorah will be lit at 7:30 p.m. along with song and dance

Sunday December 28

The Ceremony will start at 5:30 p.m. and the Menorah will be lit at 6:00 p.m. along with song and dance.


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