San Diego Mayor Bob Filner helped to light the Grand Menorah in San Diego Sunday night.
A ceremonial lighting at Belmont Park, led by the Chabad of Pacific Beach, helped mark the beginning of Hanukkah.
“This is a very important holiday in the Jewish tradition,” Mayor Filner said.
“I think it’s important we celebrate all of our religious traditions in the city and I wanted to be here tonight to recognize this tradition also,” he said.
“We’re a city of great diversity. We are built in our diversity and we get strength from our diversity.”
The Hanukkah lights are lit in the evenings preceding each of the eight days of Hanukkah, beginning Saturday night.
The festival of lights commemorates the Jewish uprising over the Syrian Empire.
Organizers of the event say the menorah lighting helps spread the universal message of religious freedom.
Find basic information on how to take part in the lighting of a menorah and why the candles are lighted in this guide from the Chabad of Pacific Beach.