Hanukkah begins Sunday: Menorah lighting celebrations to be held across Los Angeles

FILE: Menorahs are lit during a party on the 6th night of Hanukkah in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Mayor Karen Bass is set to light a menorah at a family street fair and carnival in the Pico-Robertson district Sunday to mark the start of Hanukkah at sundown.

Pico Boulevard will be closed between Doheny Drive and Livonia Avenue for the event, which will begin at noon. The menorah lighting will be held at 5 p.m. followed by a concert.

It is being organized by Chabad of California, part of the Hasidic Chabad-Lubavitch movement, which tends to the spiritual and material needs of all Jews.

The menorah lighting will be the second in four days for Bass. She was among the elected officials speaking at menorah lighting at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles Thursday organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, part of Shine A Light, an international effort by The Jewish Federations of North America to respond in solidarity to the dramatic rise of antisemitism, racism and all forms of hate.

The effort seeks to unite the Jewish community with its allies in one positive voice.

"I grew up in the Jewish community in the Fairfax district and I cherish those deep connections that all go the way back to my childhood," Bass said Thursday. "I've seen both the beauty of sharing faith traditions and the problems when people demonize each other for what they believe in."

Bass noted the Dec. 7 release of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations' 2021 hate crime report, wich found there were 786 hate crimes reported in the county in 2021, the largest number since 2002 and a 23% increase from 2020.

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"We think in Los Angeles, liberal Los Angeles, this is unthinkable. Obviously, it is not," Bass said.

There were 81 hate crimes targeting the Jewish community, a 7% increase from the 76 the previous year. Hate crimes targeting the Jewish community accounted for 74% of the religious hate crimes, the report found. The next largest targeted group was Muslims (9%) followed by Christians (8%), Catholics (5%) and Scientologists (4%).

"As I have done repeatedly throughout my life, I continue to pledge to work tirelessly to combat antisemitism, especially in our City of Angels," Bass said. "I hope that all of Los Angeles will join me in seeking to build a city filled with love, acceptance, belonging and community where neighbors come out for one another and strangers help each other out."

Other free public menorah lighting ceremonies scheduled for Sunday include:

  • A Hanukkah celebration will be held at Farmers Market from 3-5 p.m. with a performance by musician Jason Mesches and crafts-making.
  • Chabad of Chatsworth and Northridge will host a Hanukkah fair at 3:30 p.m. at the southwest corner of Devonshire Street and Etiwanda Avenue, across from the Devonshire Community Police Station, which will include an ice menorah carving and snow play area;
  • A "Chanukah Winter Wonderland" will begin at 3:30 p.m. at Point Dume Village in Malibu. The celebration organized by Chabad of Malibu will include snow globe making and a golf cart menorah parade.
  • A menorah lighting at the parking lot of the Wells Fargo Bank at the corner of Riverside Drive and Forman Avenue in Toluca Lake will feature the dropping of wrapped chocolate and other Hanukkah treats from the ladder of fire truck.
  • The event organized by Chabad of Toluca Lake will run from 4:30-6 p.m. and also include live entertainment, LED robot dancers, fresh doughnuts, hot soup, hot latkes and more.
  • The "Grand Chanukah Extravaganza" will be conducted from 4-6 p.m. at the 2ND & PCH shopping center in Long Beach by Shul by the Shore and include a performance by guitarist Moshe Storch and free doughnuts.
  • A "Grand Menorah Lighting and Chanukah Celebration" will begin at 4:30 p.m. at The Culver Steps in Culver City, organized by Jewish Community of Culver City — Chabad.
  • Chabad of Pacific Palisades will host its 35th annual Palisades Menorah Lighting outside the Bay Theater at 6 p.m., preceded at 5 p.m. with a live performance by the children's music band the BeatBuds and craft-making. Latkes, doughnuts and hot drinks will be available.
  • Nightly menorah lighting in the 1400 block of Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica will begin at sundown.

Hanukkah commemorates the temple rededication that followed the Maccabees' victory over a larger Syrian army.

Once the Jews defeated the Hellenist Syrian forces of Antiochus IV in 165 B.C. at the end of a three-year rebellion, the temple in Jerusalem, which the occupiers had dedicated to the worship of Zeus, was rededicated by Judah Maccabee, who led the insurgency begun by his father, the high priest Mattathias.

According to the story of Hanukkah, Maccabee and his soldiers wanted to light the temple's ceremonial lamp with ritually pure olive oil as part of their rededication but found only enough oil to burn for one day. The oil, however, burned for eight days in what was held to be a miracle.

Hanukkah — which means "dedication" in Hebrew — is observed around the world by lighting candles in a special menorah called a Hanukkiah each day at sundown for eight days, with an additional candle added each day.

The reason for the lights is so passersby should see them and be reminded of the holiday's miracle.

Other Hanukkah traditions include spinning a dreidel, a four-sided top, which partially commemorates a game that Jews under Greek domination are believed to have played to camouflage their Torah study, and eating foods fried in oil, such as latkes, pancakes of grated raw potatoes and jelly doughnuts.

Children receive Hanukkah "gelt" (the Yiddish word for money) from parents and grandparents. The tradition originated with 17th-century Polish Jews giving money to their children to give their teachers during Hanukkah, which led to parents also giving children money.

In the United States, the practice has evolved into giving holiday gifts to children and others.