Area Jews prep for Hanukkah
By Lea Blevins, STAFF WRITER (exepts posted)
 
IT MAY BE looking a lot like Christmas, but for Jews in the Tri-Valley, it's starting to look more like Hanukkah.

Although the Jewish holiday often gets overshadowed by the commercial "joy" of Christmas, Hanukkah is becoming more of a robust holiday throughout the Valley.

Hanukkah, also called the Festival of Lights, dates back more than 2,100 years when the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was desecrated by the Syrian Greeks. But the holiday is not a solemn one, rather one of celebration.

When the Jewish people regained the temple, they found only one jar of oil still suitable to light the menorah. It was enough oil to burn one day only, but it miraculously burned for eight days until new olive oil was produced.

"The whole message of Hanukkah is to light up the darkness," said Rabbi Raleigh Resnick of Chabad of the Tri-Valley. "Hanukkah is what gives us hope in times of darkness and despair."

The days of Hanukkah are based on the Jewish calendar, so the dates vary from year to year. This year the holiday runs from sunset today to sunset on Dec. 23.

While people may notice menorah candles burning in the windows of families' homes, a number of public Hanukkah celebrations spread the word throughout the community.

Resnick is overseeing public menorah displays at Stoneridge mall in Pleasanton and — for the first time — at Hacienda Crossings shopping center in Dublin. He said he would eventually like to see a menorah display in each city similar to the common Christmas tree displays.

Several of the menorah ceremonies will include traditional Hanukkah food such as latkes and jelly doughnuts, food typically fried in oil.

Bibiane Bakery in Pleasanton helps locals celebrate Hanukkah as well by making traditional Jewish breads and pastries.

Owner/baker Pat Peck, who is from New York, said many of her Jewish friends would commemorate the holiday with traditional treats.

"In the New York area, you always have these kinds of choices," Peck said. "We thought it would be nice to offer it as well here."

Braided challah bread, honey cake, fruit-filled crusty hammentashchen pastries, rugelach cookies and coconut macaroons will all be for sale at Bibiane, 349 Main St.

The public menorah lightings throughout the Tri-Valley are open to Jewish and non-Jewish residents alike. The menorahs will be lighted each night of Hanukkah, but special events include:

-Public lighting on the second night of Hanukkah with Dublin dignitaries, jump slide, crafts, music and dancing from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Hacienda Crossings in front of Regal Cinemas, 5000 Dublin Blvd., Dublin.

-Formal program and lighting of second annual "Hanukkah Wonderland" with face painting and crafts from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Stoneridge Shopping Center, One Stoneridge Mall, Pleasanton.

For more information on the Hacienda or Stoneridge events, visit http://www.jewishtrivalley.com.

Staff Writer Lea Blevins can be reached at lblevins@angnewspapers.com or (925) 416-4819.