Chabad of Solano County Rabbi Chaim Zaklos, top left, lights the menorah while Vacaville Mayor Steve Hardy, top right, looks on Sunday night in Vacaville. (Daily Republic-Adam Smith)


Vacaville celebrates start of Hanukkah with menorah lighting

VACAVILLE — A giant, decorated Christmas tree stands at the end of Main Street in Vacaville, but soon it will be joined by a different holiday symbol.

For the fourth time in the city’s history, a 12-foot tall menorah will stand beside the Christmas tree, displaying the spirit of Hanukkah.

The community and members of Chabad Solano joined together to witness and celebrate the lighting of the downtown menorah Sunday afternoon. Hanukkah began Saturday.

Children and adults enjoyed free doughnuts, latkes and coffee while watching Jeremy the Fire Juggler before the ceremony.

Rabbi Chaim Zaklos started the public event four years ago after he and his family moved to the area.

Several public officials participated in the ceremony, including Vacaville Mayor Steve Hardy, who lit one candle before Zaklos lit the second.

After three years of dealing with foul weather during the menorah lighting, attendees finally got to enjoy sunshine during the annual celebration.

Before the candles were lit, Zaklos explained the meaning of the menorah to the crowd.

“It is a symbol of freedom and democracy for human beings,” he said. “This is our opportunity to bring the light.”

Vacaville and Benicia are the only two cities in Solano County that hold menorah lightings, though Vacaville claims they are the largest.

Bernice Kaylin, Shlomo Ovaide, Doreen Ovaide and Nina Coope said they were delighted when Zaklos and the city first started the event.

It has never been done before, they said.

“There’s a lot of warmth and culture,” Kaylin said. “And there’s always food.”

Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at