Chabad of Petaluma's menorah-laden drone takes flight.
Chabad of Petaluma's menorah-laden drone takes flight.

PHOTOS: A flying drone menorah and other Bay Area Hanukkah events

After a muted celebration last year, public menorah lightings are back across the Bay Area! Send us your Hanukkah event pics throughout the eight-day holiday to photos@jweekly.com and we’ll add them here and on our Instagram.

And if you’re looking for a public menorah lighting to attend, we’ve got you covered over here.


Night 8

Chabad of Mill Valley lit an ice sculpture menorah on the last night of the holiday.

The ice menorah in Mill Valley
The ice menorah in Mill Valley

The flying drone menorah made another appearance, this time in Novato, for the 10th anniversary of the town’s public menorah lighting. The event was “an amazing success with hundreds of people watching a drone menorah fly over Novato city hall,” Rabbi Menachem Landa of Chabad of Novato told us in an email. “The mayor, council members in attendance and the entire community loved it!” Check out video of the event here.


Night 6

Congregation Emanu-El held a public menorah lighting and concert at the bandshell in Golden Gate Park.

(Photo/Marc Estoque)
(Photo/Marc Estoque)

Yavneh Day School in Los Gatos has been having daily Hanukkah events for students and parents. In this video, students sing the underappreciated Hanukkah classic “Banu Hoshech.”


Night 5

Eighteen cars (an auspicious number!) drove through the streets of El Cerrito, Kensington and Albany, organized by Rabbi Yanky Bell of Chabad of El Cerrito. “It was incredible to see hundreds of people all the way down Arlington and Solano Avenue waving, clapping and dancing along to the Chanukah music,” Bell told us in an email. The parade was followed by a menorah lighting and juggling show at El Cerrito Plaza.

Chabad of El Cerrito's Hanukkah car parade
Chabad of El Cerrito’s Hanukkah car parade
Children at Chabad of El Cerrito's fifth-night menorah lighting event
Children at Chabad of El Cerrito’s fifth-night menorah lighting event

Not to be outdone, 25 vehicles — including SF Chabad’s Mitzvah Cable Car, of course — were lit up and decked out with menorahs, blasting Hanukkah songs as they paraded along Geary Boulevard in San Francisco. “The most beautiful part for me of the parade was watching my 9 year old daughter calling out Chanukah wishes to passers-by with such excitement. What a beautiful display of Jewish pride and joy!” Rabbi Nosson Potash of Chabad of Cole Valley, one of the organizers of the parade, told us in an email. He also told us about a local shop owner who said, “The contrast of a parade of cars that organized a smash and grab at Nordstrom to seeing this parade of cars sharing joy and light was so heartwarming.”

Geary Street Hanukkah parade
Geary Street Hanukkah parade

Chabad of Petaluma and Chabad of San Mateo have taken to the skies this Hanukkah! An airborne menorah suspended from a drone has been dropping gelt on attendees at the their Hanukkah events this year.

The video has gone viral on WhatsApp, getting shared in Israel, Florida, the UK and Brazil, reports Rabbi Dovid Bush of Chabad of Petaluma. “So in addition to the over 400 people locally who got to view it — and catch some gelt — and the folks who posted that they were out shopping and saw a menorah hovering over Petaluma, thousands around the globe have been able to share in the Chanukah joy and light,” Bush told us in an email.

Rabbi Dovid Bush lights the menorah in Petaluma.
Rabbi Dovid Bush lights the menorah in Petaluma.

Night 4

JCC of Sonoma County‘s executive director, Scott Brockman, sent in these photos of lightings throughout Sonoma County. Clockwise from top left: Congregation Ner Shalom in Cotati, Chabad of Healdsburg, B’nai Israel Jewish Center in Petaluma, and Chabad of Santa Rosa.


Kids and families at JCC of East Bay got together with their counterparts at the JCC of East Netanya (that’s Netanya, Israel!) to virtually light the menorah and sing Hanukkah songs over Zoom.

The East Bay half of the hybrid menorah lighting event
The East Bay half of the hybrid menorah lighting event

Night 3

Chabad of the Tri-Valley held its 17th annual menorah lighting at Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton with games, crafts, activities and music.

Chabad of the Tri-Valley's menorah lighting at Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton, Nov. 30
Chabad of the Tri-Valley’s menorah lighting at Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton, Nov. 30
Crafts at Chabad of the Tri-Valley's Hanukkah event at Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton, Nov. 30
Crafts at Chabad of the Tri-Valley’s Hanukkah event at Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton, Nov. 30

Night 2

At the JCCSF, musician Jonathan Bayer has been providing music at nightly menorah lightings.

At the JCCSF, musician Jonathan Bayer has been providing music at nightly menorah lightings.
At the JCCSF, musician Jonathan Bayer has been providing music at nightly menorah lightings.

Rabbi Gil Leeds of UC Berkeley Chabad sent in these pics of his 15th annual menorah lighting at the iconic gates to the school’s campus:


Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto is holding menorah lightings in its courtyard all week. “It is amazing seeing our community members together once again for the lighting,” Marco Esquivel, OFJCC’s communications specialist, told us in an email.

Nov. 29 menorah lighting at Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto
Nov. 29 menorah lighting at Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto

Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi of Congregation Chevra Thilim in San Francisco led a second-night menorah lighting at the popular Hummus Bodega in the city’s Richmond District.

Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi lighting the menorah at Hummus Bodega
Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi lighting the menorah at Hummus Bodega

Night 1

Mayor Kevin Wilk, the first Jewish mayor of Walnut Creek, was on hand for Chabad of Contra Costa‘s first-night event, which drew a crowd of about 500, according to Rabbi Dovber Berkowitz.

Rabbi Dovber Berkowitz (left) and Mayor Kevin Hart light the menorah
Rabbi Dovber Berkowitz (left) and Mayor Kevin Wilk light the menorah

Dr. Bruce D. Feldstein, director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services‘ Jewish Chaplaincy Services, is lighting the menorah daily at 4 p.m. at Stanford Hospital. “The Hanukkah story is most poignant in the hospital, where our patients and families are on the living edge of the Hanukkah story, fighting against forces (illness, injury) that are out to limit life,” Feldstein told us in an email. “And the situation often seems impossible and deeply uncertain — just like the Maccabees against the ancient Greeks… The hospital is a place where the impossible becomes possible, where miracles happen.”

Top: the menorah in a public area of Stanford Hospital. Bottom: Chaplain Dr. Bruce D. Feldstein with the menorah.
Top: the menorah in a public area of Stanford Hospital. Bottom: Chaplain Dr. Bruce D. Feldstein with the menorah.

Chabad of Danville and S. Ramon held a menorah lighting at City Center Bishop Ranch with a live DJ and “glow experience” by LA Rainbow Events. Contra Costa County Supervisor Candace Andersen, San Ramon Mayor Bill Clarkson and Danville Mayor Renee Morgan were all in attendance to greet the crowd.


Chabad of Humboldt County held “Chanukah on the Plaza,” a first-night menorah lighting in the center of Arcata.

Menorah lighting in Arcata, Nov. 28
Menorah lighting in Arcata, Nov. 28

Urban Adamah, the Jewish farm and education center in Berkeley, teamed up with Eden Village West summer camp for an afternoon and evening of family-friendly Hanukkah celebration and activities. The event included workshops on making apple cider and beeswax candles, baking tutorials, music and, of course, a menorah lighting.

Apple cider making workshop at Urban Adamah Hanukkah event, Nov. 28
Apple cider making workshop at Urban Adamah Hanukkah event, Nov. 28

Rabbi Yehuda Ferris of Berkeley Chabad sang and played guitar at a first-night menorah lighting in Emeryville. In the video below, he sings “The Wheel” by the Grateful Dead.


The city of Tiburon lit its own giant public menorah on Sunday night thanks to the efforts of Gina Waldman, longtime Tiburon resident and co-founder of JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa).

Public menorah lighting in Tiburon, Nov. 28. (Photo/Instagram @ecachette)
Public menorah lighting in Tiburon, Nov. 28. (Photo/Instagram @ecachette)

Waldman coordinated the purchase of the 9-foot menorah after a local family who had used their own menorah for public lightings moved away three years ago. Nightly lightings will be hosted by different local families at Fountain Plaza in Tiburon, at 5:30 p.m. through Dec. 5, and a community inaugural event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 4, with a musical Havdalah ceremony and Sephardic-style lighting by Rabbi Tsipora Gabai.


After a small pandemic-safe gathering last year, the annual Bill Graham Menorah Project in Union Square was back in a big way Sunday night. This is the event’s 46th year. When it began in 1975, it was one of the first big public menorah lightings outside of Israel.

The first night crowd at the Union Square menorah lighting, Nov. 28. (Photo/Natalie Schrik)
The first-night crowd at the Union Square menorah lighting, Nov. 28. (Photo/Natalie Schrik)

Rabbi Yosef Langer of SF Chabad, known to Giants fans as “The Rally Rabbi,” was the emcee as usual. He was joined by a number of guests atop the enormous menorah, including State Sen. Scott Wiener.

State Sen. Scott Wiener (left) and Rabbi Yosef Langer light the Bill Graham menorah in San Francisco's Union Square, Nov. 28. (Photo/Natalie Schrik)
State Sen. Scott Wiener (left) and Rabbi Yosef Langer light the Bill Graham menorah in San Francisco’s Union Square, Nov. 28. (Photo/Natalie Schrik)

San Francisco Supervisor Myrna Melgar joined West Portal Chabad’s Rabbi Menachem Levin to light the shamash.

Rabbi Menachem Levin (left) and SF Supe Myrna Levin (center)
Rabbi Menachem Levin (left) and SF Supervisor Myrna Melgar (center).

Avraham “The Dreidel Man” Potash, son of Chabad of Cole Valley directors Rabbi Nosson and Chaya Potash, went out in the community on a pedi-bike decorated to look like a dreidel with a colorful flashing LED menorah on top to share the spirit and joy of the holiday.

Avraham "The Dreidel Man" Potash
Avraham “The Dreidel Man” Potash

State Assembly member Mia Bonta helped Rabbi Meir Shmotkin light a 9-foot lego menorah built by local children at a community Hanukkah celebration in Alameda.

Rabbi Meir Shmotkin (left) and Assemblymember Mia Bonta (Photo/Clayton J. Mitchell Photography)
Rabbi Meir Shmotkin (left) and state Assembly member Mia Bonta. (Photo/Clayton J. Mitchell Photography)