The Best Hanukkah Celebrations to Visit the United States
Hanukkah is the eight-day celebration commonly referred to as the Festival of Lights because it commemorates the miraculous eight days of light from one night's worth of lamp oil when the Second Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated. It's a joyous celebration that communities take part in nationwide. The menorah, with its nine branches, shines as a bright reminder of the miracle that inspires the celebration. Latkes (potato pancakes), sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), dreidels (the four-sided spinning tops), and gift exchanges are all part of the Jewish holiday.
This year, the holiday begins at sundown on Sunday, November 28, and ends on the evening of Monday, December 6. And in that time, there are plenty of communal celebrations across the country—many of which are free and open to the public—that give us all an opportunity to celebrate Hanukkah together.
Chanukah on the River
A rock concert on the River Walk, a live concert, special guests, and a parade of boats with menorahs aboard are highlights of this San Antonio festival, held December 5. Chanukah on the River began in 1998 based on a conversation between Rabbis Chaim Block and Yossi Marrus of Chabad with the vision to bring the Chanukah Celebration of Light to the city. After starting off with forty people and one river barge, the event has expanded to include nearly 1,000 people to join in on the event.
The Country's Largest Menorah
Two 32-foot New York City gems vie for that title—one in Manhattan, opposite the Plaza Hotel; the other in Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza. Both will be ceremoniously lit on November 28. The Largest Menorah in Brooklyn's celebrations originally began in 1985 with every night of Chanukah bringing in thousands of people to enjoy live music, hot latkes, and gifts. "With the assistance of a 60 foot boom lift, Rabbi Shimon Hecht, accompanied by community leaders, philanthropists and special guests light this humongous Menorah," the site reads. "TLM is a leading symbol of Chanukah, publicly reaffirming the celebration of our freedom, inspired by the Maccabean victory of right over might and light over darkness."
Chanukah on Ice
On December 2, vintage cars with menorahs atop will lead celebrants to an outdoor rink in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at Chanukah on Ice where they can skate beneath a giant one carved out of ice. Aside from skating with loved ones, watch the Chanukah lighting, participate in a free raffle, and Kosher Hanukkah refreshments.