"This menorah that's standing here tonight is a symbol of religious freedom."
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With the touch of a torch, the Festival of Lights kicked off around the Bay Area Sunday night.
Hanukkah events were held everywhere from Alameda in the East Bay to the Warrior's home at Thrive City.
In the North Bay, a giant menorah was even airlifted by drones for an event hosted by the Chabad of Petaluma.
"This menorah that's standing here tonight is a symbol of religious freedom. It's been accepted by the entire world as also a cultural symbol," said Rabbi Moshe Langer.
In Union Square, Rabbi Moshe Langer helped kick of one of the biggest menorah lightings in the country.
An event with historical significance both within and outside of San Francisco.
"This is the first public menorah outside of Israel. 47 years ago," Rabbi Langer said.
But as families all around the Bay Area begin their Hanukkah celebrations, many are also aware of rising anti-Semitism.
In the past year, anti-Semitic flyers have appeared in several Bay Area neighborhoods.
Just one example, experts say, of increasing hate.
"2021's audit revealed the highest number of anti-semitic incidents on record since we began tracking," said Teresa Drenick.
Drenick works with the Anti-Defamation League.
She says an extremely polarized political climate is a driving factor, however not the only one.
"But also by the words and actions of some of the most famous celebrities amongst us," said Drenick.
But despite the negativity, Rabbi Langer says he's determined to enjoy the holiday.
Proudly celebrating his faith with friends and family.
"It's very important that in today's climate, in today's day and age, that everybody from all religions can go out and celebrate their religion in peace," said Rabbi Langer.
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