Anybody seen a silver Volvo around town with a large menorah attached to the top? That's Rabbi Menachem Landa getting into the Hanukah spirit.
"The point of it is the sense of community and the unity between communities," said Landa, who moved to Novato earlier this year to establish a Chabad Jewish center. "We want everyone to know what Hanukah is about. It's about lighting up the night, lighting up the darkness."
And it's lighting up people's faces as that Volvo drives by.
The upstart Chabad Novato congregation, which is looking for a permanent home, will meet for a Hanukah service at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, in the outdoor patio area at Whole Foods Market. About 200 people are expected, Rabbi Landa said.
KKSF radio talk show host Gil Gross, a Novato resident, will share holiday greetings at the start of the Hanukah service. The lighting of the menorah will be done by City Manager Michael Frank, who will say some blessings in Hebrew. Novato City Council member Denise Athas will share some words as well. After the service, refreshments will include latkes and doughnuts.
"Lighting the menorah is just a special thing. The flame is something that brings warmth and light, which is all you need," Rabbi Landa said. "It's one small act but it's very contagious. ... It's a message for all time, and the message will always be that good will always triumph over darkness, good will triumph over evil. We all have that spirit within us, and we just need to share it with the world."
There are several other holiday events planned. Starting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10 (5 p.m. for the kids), there will be a community party at the Downtown Recreation Center (alias Teen Center) on Seventh Street featuring magician Dan Chan, dreidels, a choir and refreshments. On Dec. 12, Rabbi Landa has set up a "car menorah parade."
"Yes, we will be driving through Novato with menorahs mounted on our cars," he said with a laugh.
The rabbi's wife, Adina, said they've had a wonderful reception since arriving this spring.
"We appreciate the community’s eagerness to bring a comprehensive holiday spirit to the town," she said in a press release. "There is no better way to show our unity than with a Hanukah program that symbolizes unity, light and joy."
To learn more about Jewish culture in Novato, check out www.jewishnovato.com.