This year marks the 41st anniversary of the Union Square menorah lighting in San Francisco! Hosted by Chabad of SF, the 25-foot-tall menorah was unveiled on December 6 and will be on display until December 13. During the eight days of Hanukkah, tourists and locals alike are welcomed to attend the daily menorah lighting ceremony. Make sure to stop by Union Square sometime this week to join in on the holiday fun!

History of the Union Square Menorah

The lighting of the Union Square menorah in 1975 was the first public celebration of Hanukkah outside of Israel and has inspired many copy-cats since! The construction of this beautiful two-story mahogany structure was made possible by iconic music promoter Bill Graham, a San Francisco transplant who worked with the legendary performers like the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. Graham, a Jewish immigrant who fled Nazi Germany, offered to fund the menorah’s construction after he was approached by the founder of the Chabad movement in Northern California.

The menorah was dedicated to Graham after his passing in 1993, and is one the most recognizable holiday decorations in San Francisco. You can find more information on Bill Graham and the construction of the Union Square Menorah here.

Fun Facts About Hanukkah and the Union Square Menorah

  • Did you know that Graham’s idea to build a massive menorah encouraged many Jews to publicly celebrate Hanukkah ? Now, there are hundreds of menorah lightings world-wide.
  • Jews celebrate Hanukkah by preparing several traditional dishes, including a potato pancake called latke and jelly filled doughnuts called sufganiot.
  • The menorah lighting ceremony is a family-friendly event. For more of our family-friendly events in SF, click here.

You can learn more about the menorah lighting ceremony and Chabad SF here. Happy Hanukkah!