Annual Menorah Lighting Ceremony takes place Sunday via drive-through due to COVID

Annual Menorah Lighting Ceremony takes place Sunday via drive-through due to COVID
Posted at 11:36 PM, Dec 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 02:36:05-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Millions across the country are celebrating the fourth night of Hanukkah, but many this year are having to celebrate differently.

The Chabad Jewish Community Center of Bakersfield in Southwest on Sunday held its annual Menorah lighting ceremony in a drive-thru form.

"You know it makes me happy to see all these people here to support the Chabad even during these times," said Jessica Hakimian, an attendee.

The Festival of Lights takes place for eight nights and days, to honor the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
"Hanukkah to me especially is like a symbol of life, hope and it even brings everyone together," said Hakimian.

Dozens of families filled the parking for the ceremony, some remaining in their cars and others socially distancing.
The community Menorah was made by children volunteers and was lit on Sunday by Mayor Karen Goh.

"The message is to be Simcha, in Hebrew, it means to be joyful to learn from the lights of the Menorah to be light and to increase light," said Rabbi Shmuli Schlanger, of Chabad of Bakersfield.

The Menorah lighting lasted for more than an hour where it included prayer and live music.

The organizer says they felt Sunday's event was needed more than ever at this moment.

"We didn’t want to cancel, because we are in what looks like very dark times," said Esther Schlanger, director of Chabad of Bakersfield.

"The Menorah illuminates the message of warmth, joy, and we really need that-- we all do in our lives," said Schlanger.