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The Festival of Lights

December is a time for family, fun and giving. These values reign true all over the world and in the 209 area. The Jewish community is hosting a variety of family-oriented Hanukkah – or “Chanukah” as it is known to some – traditions in early December. Hanukkah begins this year at sunset on Dec. 6 and runs through Dec. 14 at nightfall.

Hanukkah has many traditional songs, “I Have a Little Dreidel” “Chanukah, Chanukah” and “Sivivon, Sov, Sov, Sov” are sung during the eight-day celebration. Dreidels are handed out as presents. A dreidel is a game that translates into “a great miracle happened here.”

Rabbi Brod of Chabad of Stockton will be hard at work during the Hanukkah week bringing joy, knowledge and gifts to the Stockton community.

“Hanukkah is a powerful holiday. It symbolizes hope, goodness and kindness, which for these times we live in, are more important now than ever,” said Rabbi Brod.

The Chabad of Stockton is teaming up with Home Depot of Stockton and the Sacramento Kings this season to provide some holiday happiness for the Jewish community. On Dec. 6 Rabbi Brod and members of the Chabad of Stockton will be at the Home Depot at 5010 Feather River Drive (near March Lane) in Stockton for an art project.

“We have the kids build their own menorahs for Hanukkah. It will be a fun time for the kids and they will also learn of the Jewish faith at the same time,” Rabbi Brod shared. The project runs from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and is free of charge for anyone who would like to participate.

One of the Chabad of Stockton’s biggest events during the eight-night holiday is the lighting of the giant menorah at Weber Point in Stockton. This event has gone on for nearly a decade, and originally began at the Sherwood Mall but has since been relocated to Weber Point. On Dec. 7 the community will gather at Weber Point for the lighting of the eight foot menorah.

“The lighting of the menorah represents light, which represents hope, goodness and kindness,” Rabbi Brod pointed out.

The lighting of the big menorah is a worldwide tradition from the White House to Israel, he added.

“It’s a public display of freedom and kindness for everyone,” said the Rabbi.

This much anticipated tradition takes place at 6 p.m.

On Dec. 10 the congregation will spread the faith to Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento where they will join up with the National Basketball Association’s Sacramento Kings for Jewish Heritage Night against the New York Knicks. Led by Israeli-born Omri Casspi, a Sacramento forward, the Chabad of Stockton will be at the game for a menorah lighting postgame with Casspi.

Throughout the year, the Chabad of Stockton helps out the community in unique ways. Rabbi Brod, who has been with the synagogue for nearly 14 years, said they are open to anyone who is of the Jewish faith.

“Most synagogues you must be a member. At Chabad of Stockton everyone is welcome; you are considered a 'member' as soon as you reach out to us,” Rabbi Brod explained. “If there are less fortunate people out there who need Hanukkah supplies like menorahs or dreidels we supply them.”