Hundreds of people celebrated the start of Hanukkah on Sunday during the annual menorah lighting at Liberty Station.
Rabbi Yossi Tiefenbrun, of Chabad of Pacific Beach, recited a series of blessings in Hebrew as he lit a candle in a silver menorah to celebrate the first night of the Jewish holiday, which lasts eight days.
Singer Gideon Friedman, of Chabad of Downtown San Diego, then sang a traditional prayer in Hebrew.
The event — a partnership between Liberty Station, Chabad of Pacific Beach and Chabad of Downtown San Diego — was free and open to the public.
During Hanukkah, candles in a menorah are lit one by one each day at sundown for eight days.
According to the story of Hanukkah, an army made up of followers of priest Mattathias Maccabee and his son, Judah, revolted against the Seleucid Empire and reclaimed the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BC.
The army 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 considered a miracle.
Tiefenbrun said Hanukkah “teaches us we can’t give up hope.”
“We have to constantly look for our own jug of oil,” he told the crowd, adding that the holiday is a reminder that “a little bit of light pushes away a lot of darkness.”
He said menorahs are placed near windows and doors to “spread that light to other people.”
Pure joy, he said, comes when you spread joy — when you light someone else’s candle.
Heather Hewes, who is part of a Jewish mothers group, said she hadn’t been to a menorah lighting in years. She attended Sunday’s event with her husband and their 1-year-old twins. “It’s kind of a nice connection after the pandemic,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to have my community around me.”
Jill Lackey, who lives in the area and is not Jewish, said she and her family attend the celebration every year.
“I think it’s important for my kids to learn about the different religious and observe the different cultures and ways that they celebrate the holiday,” Lackey said.
The menorah in Liberty Station’s Central Promenade will be on display for the rest of Hanukkah.