Chanukah during COVID-19: 'Ambassadors of light' delivering menorahs as symbols of hope

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Thursday marked the first night of Chanukah, and in San Francisco, an annual tradition will look a bit different this year due to COVID-19.

Crowds of people have traditionally filled San Francisco's Union Square every Chanukah for the annual Bill Graham Menorah Project Menorah Lighting.

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This year however, father and son rabbis Yosef and Moshe Langer are asking people to stay home.

"That's what we're trying to do persuade people to stay at home and make the party bigger at home with your family," said Yosef Langer.

"It says in the Talmud to save one life is like saving the entire world," said Moshe Langer.

VIDEO: Here's what Bay Area Hanukkah celebrations will look like amid pandemic
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Thursday night marks the first night of Hanukkah as millions around the world celebrate the Festival of Lights. Celebrations will look different this year and take on even bigger significance during the pandemic.

The Bill Graham menorah has been a fixture for decades.

"It's affectionately called the mamma menorah because 45 years later there's 15,000 public menorahs all across the world," said Moshe Langer.

A symbol of light and hope, for those celebrating at home this year, Langer says "Ambassadors of light" are available to deliver a menorah to anyone's doorstep.

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"This pandemic has really caused us to dig deeper and further within ourselves to find that light that positivity within us and within the world and uncover that and shine it bright," said Moshe Langer.

While this Chanukah will be unique, many are finding ways to incorporate tradition, Frena Bakery in San Francisco was buzzing as people picked up orders for sufganiyot, traditional Chanukah jelly doughnuts.

Chabad of San Francisco will stream the menorah lighting on Facebook for those who wish to watch virtually.

A careful balancing act between carrying on the celebration and keeping everyone safe.

"This is what the promise is that the light will continue to shine no matter what the obstacle is," said Yosef Langer.
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