San Francisco

Sculptor to Carve Giant Menorah Out of Block of Ice in Sunnyvale for Hanukkah

Rabbis in Silicon Valley have been known to strap a menorah to a Tesla and light up glow-in-the-dark candelabras during Hanukkah.

Not to be outdone, Chabad of Sunnvyale Rabbi Yisroel Hecht has hired a master ice sculptor on Tuesday afternoon to chisel an eight-pronged menorah out of a solid block of ice in honor of the Jewish Festival of Lights.

Award-winning ice sculptor Mark Davis will be showing up with his tools, and an 8-foot hunk of ice, to perform and wow at a free, public event. Davis has carved a Santa riding on a train, a farmer riding a tractor in Nevada and a gigantic ice chef in San Francisco.

Davis said it will take him about 90 minutes to carve each arm of the menorah; he's got to work fast in California weather. "They've got to look like crystal," he said, "not clunky."

President Barack Obama on Wednesday saw his final Hanukkah receptions at the White House. Obama revealed that this year’s menorah was made by the granddaughter of the late poet and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

Hecht said he wants the event to be a show stopper.

"We wanted some kind of cool gimmick," Hecht said. "We've done menorahs out of balloons, and pennies. Someone knew an ice sculptor and we thought the symbolism of fire and ice was really cool."

Hecht also said that the "symbolism of the menorah, as invoked by President Obama in his Hanukkah message, is truly a universal message--one that is as important today as it was over 20 centuries ago at the time of the Hanukkah story. The menorah is a symbol that in the face of the darkness [to fight] evil ignorance and intolerance."

Chabad of San Jose Rabbi Aaron Cunin strapped a menorah to a borrowed Tesla on Wednesday handing out free menorahs before the start of Hanukkah.

The Chabad of Sunnyvale’s public lighting is just one of countless others across the globe, and among dozens of others in the Bay Area, including the most popular one at Union Square in San Francisco by the Orthodox, Hasidic group of “Chabad-niks” there.

This week, someone stole a 6-foot, 100-pound brass menorah from Washington Square Park put up by the Chabad of North Beach. San Francisco police think the thief or thieves may have wanted to sell the brass. As of Tuesday, it still hadn’t been recovered, but the rabbi there has been hosting nightly menorah lightings anyway with community members bringing their own.

Festivities including music, jelly donuts and dreidels in Sunnyvale begin on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.  at Zanotto’s Family Market at 1356 S. Mary Street. The kindling of the “Ice Menorah” will be held at 5:30 p.m.

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