Local Jewish congregations gathered at Valencia Town Center on Sunday evening to celebrate Hanukkah and light the fourth candle on the menorah.
“This is our 25th year that we’re having this event here in the mall,” said Rabbi Choni Marozov of Chabad of SCV. “And it’s really a community spirit event. All three synagogues get together. And we come together, demonstrating Jewish unity and coming together in camaraderie and solidarity and celebrating freedom over oppression and light over darkness.”
The event featured complimentary latkes and desserts, as well as musical performances by adults and children alike. Santa Clarita Mayor Jason Gibbs, a featured guest of the gathering, was the one to light the center candle with the assistance of Marozov and fellow Chabad Rabbi Mendy Bistritzky.
“With everything that has been happening across this country and just here locally over the past few months, it’s important now as it always is to come together as a community to support our Jewish community, to support them in the lighting, to know that we stand with them, that we’re here for them.”
Sunday evening marked Gibbs’ third public menorah lighting, as well as his second in his term as mayor for the past year.
“I got to do this as soon as I became mayor in 2022, and this will be one of my last acts as mayor going out in 2023,” he said. “And to bookend my time as mayor like this? It’s an honor.”
The lighting carried additional emotional significance this year in the shadow of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas. The assault and subsequent war between Hamas and Israel have led to an international spike in antisemitic incidents and attacks.
“With everything that has been happening across this country and just here locally over the past few months, it’s important now as it always is to come together as a community to support our Jewish community, to support them in the lighting, to know that we stand with them, that we’re here for them,” said Gibbs.
“The message of Hanukkah is to fight darkness with light and goodness, and more mitzvahs and more love, and that’s the message and the response of the Jewish people,” said Bistritzky.
The Jewish attendees of the lighting still found room for merriment and laughter as they celebrated both the holiday and each other.
“We’re celebrating the victory of the Jewish people 2,000 years ago, where they were oppressed and weren’t allowed to practice their religion,” said Marozov. “And thanks to God’s miracles, we overcame the Syrian Greeks and we were able to go back into the temple and serve God.”
“This is a testament to what Santa Clarita embraces and embodies,” said Gibbs. “It’s love and respect for all who call Santa Clarita home.”