Beverly Hills kicks off Festival of Lights, lights menorah marking first evening of Hanukkah

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (KABC) -- The city of Beverly Hills kicked off The Festival of Lights and lit a large menorah to mark the first evening of Hanukkah.

Members of the Jewish community gathered for a public celebration.

"For eight days, people will drive by and see the menorah...give that special part of their heart a little warmth...the holiday spirit," said Rabbi Yosef Cunin.

One additional candle will be lit on each day of the eight day festival.

This year's ceremony came after what police are investigating as a hate crime at an Iranian-Jewish synagogue in Beverly Hills.

An intruder broke into the sanctuary and destroyed relics and caused other damage.

"It struck a chord to everybody living here. A little shock and awe as to what it means to live here as a Jew. This country allows for everyone to practice their religion as they wish and desire," said Cunin.

Families gathered together to enjoy festive Hanukkah celebrations including entertainment, music and meals featuring traditional foods.

"With a little bit of light, darkness fades away. When we get out there and spread a little positive energy between one another, that fades away the enemy which is evil, the hatred between people," Cunin said.

Hanukkah ends Dec. 30.
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