Here's what Bay Area Hanukkah celebrations will look like amid pandemic

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- 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.

From San Francisco's Union Square to Santa Clara's City Hall, larger-than-life menorahs are being set up for the first night of Hanukkah, the annual eight-day celebration in the Jewish faith.

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"This reminds us that there's miraculous energy, it's not just cultural. It's really divine," said Rabbi Yousef Langer of Chabad SF.

Celebrations will be different this year as stay-at-home orders restrict activities in the Bay Area.

Instead of the community gathering to light the menorah in Union Square each night and enjoying traditional oil-fried foods like latkes, Bay Area chabads are asking people to stay home.

"The city actually told us that they put a lot of restrictions and guidelines on us and we're respecting that and we're asking everybody to stay home... and light their menorah's in their home," said Rabbi Moshe Langer, Yousef's son.

At the heart of the meaning of Hanukkah is a message of miracles and the power of light to dispel darkness.

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The message holds even greater significance as we close out a year filled with sacrifice during the pandemic.

"Now we're in a very dark place, and we're going to hopefully get to a very bright, beautiful place and our job is to spread that light," said Langer.

Despite the restrictions, 60 chabad communities will be uniting on Tuesday, Dec 15 for a unity menorah lighting viz Zoom.

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