Pleasanton Boy to Light State Menorah

Susan Groshans

This year, Hanukkah begins Dec. 25, but the excitement began last week for Pleasanton fifth-grader Will Hyams. That was when he was chosen to represent the Tri-Valley Chabad at the official unveiling of the state menorah on the steps of the state capital.

He was to travel to Sacramento this morning to join youth representatives from 10 chabads throughout the California. Each will present Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger with a hand-made menorah and will join him for a kosher lunch in his office.

Rabbi Raleigh Resnick and his wife, Fruma, head the Tri-Valley Chabad.

He says Will's family is very involved at the chabad and as for Will, he said: "I've been studying with him," Resnick said. "He was the right choice."

The menorah Will created may also be the right choice - each of the eight candles represents a character the Governor has played. So yes, on Day One they'll light Conari; Day Two, the Terminator, and so on.

Fortunately, Will's mom, Jamie, has created unique menorahs before, including one with clowns and one she calls a "menorah-saurus."

"But this is all Will's project," Jamie said. "He is so excited."

"This is exactly what we want to do - make Judaism something kids will be attracted to," said Resnick, who calls it "taking a 4,000-year-old tradition and packaging it in 21st century technology."

"This is the balance," he said. We want it to be accessible to kids."

Will is the son of Michael and Jamie Hyams. His brother, Sam, is a sophomore at Foothill High School. When I spoke to Jamie last week, she was at her third store collecting action figures to grace her son's menorah. And they were still negotiating who would attend the event with Will.

Locally, you can take part in a public menorah lighting from 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 27 at the Grand Court at Stoneridge Mall.

The lighting ceremony itself begins at 6 p.m., but there will be activities beforehand.

For more information about the Tri-Valley Chabad "Youth Zone" visit jewishtrivalley.com or call Rabbi Resnick at 925-846-0700.