Rabbi Touts Hanukkah, Straps Menorah to Tesla

Just to make sure no one forgets Hanukkah starts Wednesday at sundown, hours before families sit down to turkey and mashed potatoes, one rabbi is handing out free menorahs and jelly doughnuts --  in a Tesla with a menorah strapped to the top.

"All of us rabbis try to compete to see who can be the most creative in spreading the light and message of Hanukkah," Rabbi Aaron Cunin of Chabad of San Jose told NBC Bay Area on Wednesday morning. "We want the attention. I wanted to do it in a Tesla."

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Cunin is doing what other Orthodox Chabad rabbis are doing across the globe to teach people about Hanukkah, which this year falls on the eve before Thanksgiving. Hanukkah marks the Jewish victory over the ancient Syrian-Greeks who destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem but left a jug of oil that miraculously burned for eight days in a candelabra called a menorah.

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Cunin said he chose to drive around in an electric Tesla because the Palo-Alto based company is all the rage. His kids are always pointing out Teslas to him on the road. He made his decision before Tesla's battery fire problems surfaced.

To grab headlines, Chabad rabbis have participated in all sorts of gimmicks to get the word out about any Jewish holiday, including Rosh Hashanah, Passover and Sukkot, too. "Menorah Mobiles" are the popular vehicle of choice to garner attention for the Jewish Festival of Lights.

Cunin said his brother-in-law in Los Angeles, Rabbi Sholom Harlig, affixed menorahs to 25 Hummers and a fire truck in the Inland Empire during a southern California parade.

The Chabad website's photo slideshow boasts menorahs strapped to vans in Milwaukee, Wisc., to cars in Moscow in front of the Kremlin, and on a horse and buggy in the Swiss Alps.

Just before lunch on Wednesday, Cunin was out in downtown San Jose in a borrowed Tesla trying to drum up some religion, handing the freebies out to Jewish passersby. He wasn't expecting a stampede. But he was hoping he'd have a few customers.

"This isn't Manhattan," Cunin said of the relative small Jewish population in Silicon Valley. "In New York, you can find a lot of people to hand menorahs too. Not so much in San Jose. But I'm still going to ask people and stop by their offices. I'm trying to build up excitement."

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