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Photo gallery: The Village alights as Chabad of La Jolla celebrates Hanukkah at La Valencia Hotel

Adding light to the festive blue spotlights placed around the courtyard at La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel, a large menorah burned under the palms to mark the third night of Hanukkah on Nov. 30.

A menorah-lighting ceremony co-sponsored by La Valencia and Monarch Cottage was part of Chabad of La Jolla’s annual Hanukkah celebration, which included a concert by “spirit folk” band Cedars of Lebanon, children’s coloring activities, menorah kits, latkes and more.

More than 100 people attended the festivities commemorating the Jewish holiday, during which menorah candles typically are lit one by one each day at sundown for eight days.

Chabad of La Jolla’s menorah-lighting ceremony last year was a drive-through event because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before 2020, Chabad of La Jolla celebrated Hanukkah at The Lot on Fay Avenue, but Rabbi Baruch Ezagui said he hopes La Valencia on Prospect Street will be the location for the menorah lighting in coming years.

As Chabad of La Jolla member Carlos Wellman lit three of the menorah’s torches, Ezagui said: “The lights of the menorah symbolize the invincible spirit and soul of man. ... The candles that will glow in the darkness of tonight will remind us that no night, no darkness, no challenge could ever snuff the spirit and the light and the journey of our people and humanity’s promise for a better world.”

The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center Jacobs Family Campus in La Jolla hosted its annual Senior Hanukkah Party for more than 30 guests Nov. 30.

Barbara Mortkowitz said the Hanukkah celebration was “very festive” but cautioned that “contrary to what everybody thinks, Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas.”

It’s looking a lot like Christmas at La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel, where two trees were lighted Dec. 2 in front of large cheering crowds.

According to the story of Hanukkah, an army made up of followers of priest Mattathias Maccabee and his son, Judah, revolted against the Seleucid Empire and reclaimed the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 164 B.C. The army wanted to light the temple’s ceremonial lamp with ritually pure olive oil as part of the rededication but found only enough oil to burn for one day. The oil, however, burned for eight days in what was considered a miracle.

Thus, the typical Hanukkah menorah has eight branches with an additional branch with which the others are lit.

“Hanukkah celebrates a great victory, a military victory,” Ezagui said. “But we don’t celebrate Hanukkah pounding our chest. What we do as Jews [is] we light a menorah, we light a candle, we make the world a better place. That is our response to any of life’s challenges.”

— The San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this report.