Lining up the candles, just so, along the menorah that's been in your family for generations, is a joy, the kind of joy that comes with anticipation and meaning and a readiness to celebrate the season.
It's a feeling that's furthered when relatives stop by, and friends, and neighbors, and the first candle is lit, then the flame glows atop the second, and soon Hanukkah has well and truly started.
But there's another dimension to gathering at the menorah: The coming together with the larger community. For while at-home nights are as wonderful and deep-of-emotion as can be (and, yes, chocolate-y and latke-laden and full of dreidel fun), it is also a heartening thing to join strangers in the eight-evening tradition.
Where to find such a lighting? First place to look is to your local synagogue, or Jewish Community Center, or another group that has hosted lightings in the past. City halls, too, often feature nightly lightings of large-scale menorahs (for example, El Segundo City Hall will feature a menorah-lighting celebration on Tuesday, Dec. 27, one that will include tunes and more).
In addition to civic buildings and community centers, look to attractions, shopping districts, and restaurant-popular destinations. The Third Street Promenade has a menorah-lovely happening on the schedule for Tuesday, Dec. 27, which is the same night that the Original Farmers Market at Third & Fairfax will host its annual Hanukkah celebration.
And the Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks will go with gelt, yummy latkes, and more celebratory touches on Tuesday, Dec. 27. There will be a lighting ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 28 as well.
Enjoy Hanukkah around Southern California, both at home and in the larger community, where drawing near a menorah, and enjoying a couple of latkes, adds sweetness and togetherness to the season.