Hanukkah festivities return to Elk Grove’s Old Town Plaza: ‘Everyone’s welcome’

Hanukkah festivities return Sunday to Elk Grove’s Old Town Plaza to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

Chabad of Elk Grove’s Light Up Elk Grove is 2:30 to 4 p.m. at Old Town Plaza, 9615 Railroad St., at Elk Grove Boulevard. All are welcome to the free event, co-sponsored by the city of Elk Grove.

The Sunday festivities feature food and music, magic and carnival booths, capped by the lighting of a 9-foot menorah. It’s the second Festival of Lights celebration by Chabad of Elk Grove, established last year and believed to be the first to serve Elk Grove’s growing Jewish community.

Hanukkah begins at sundown on Thursday and ends Dec. 15.

“We’re celebrating a beautiful holiday, but this year there is an added message,” said Rabbi Chaim Groner, who leads Chabad of Elk Grove.

Groner says Hanukkuh’s message of casting light into the darkness takes on more resonance amid a war between Israel and Hamas, as well as the rise of antisemitism in the U.S.

“We want the day to be an example,” Groner said. “People are hurting. It’s shaken a lot of people. The only way to fight it is to be kinder, be better.”

The eight days of the Jewish Festival of Lights are celebrated with nightly menorah lighting and special prayers. Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem, retaken from the Greeks in the second century B.C. by Jewish warriors known as the Maccabees. The Maccabees found only a day’s worth of oil to light the temple’s menorah, but the oil burned for eight days, the miracle at the heart of the celebration.

“It’s a show of Jewish pride and it’s open to everyone,” Groner said. “Everyone’s welcome.”

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