Nevada City, Calif. January 3, 2017 – People filled Robinson Plaza, in downtown Nevada City, to celebrate the county’s first-ever menorah lighting and Hanukkah celebration on New Year’s Eve. “It may be cold on the outside, but inside our hearts our warm and glowing” said Rabbi Nochum Yusewitz in his opening remarks.

For Annie, who has lived here for decades, this event is a long time in coming. “I’m very excited we finally have this” she said. Annie attributes the success of the Menorah Lighting to Rabbi Nochum Yusewitz of Chabad of Nevada County, who organized the event.  Her friend calls Chabad the ‘glue’ that helps the community come together.

Over 170 people came out on a freezing New Year’s eve to witness history being made in their town. Many were surprised by the large turnout and were happy the city agreed to host the event.  “Thirty years ago, I was scared to light my Menorah by my window in this city.  We have come a long way here”.  said Victoria, who was very taken by this public display of Jewish pride.

The menorah was lit on the eighth night of Chanukah which commemorates the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians. “This is the first annual grand menorah lighting here, and how beautiful, how American, to have the freedom to celebrate and enjoy the festival of Chanukah publicly and proudly,” Rabbi Nochum Yusewitz told the crowd. 

The blessings on the kindling of the Menorah were recited by Mayor Howard Levine, followed by joyous singing and dancing, and friendly conversations.  “It is this ceremony that provides hope that we come together of all different denominations of religion and cultures,” said Grass Valley Mayor Howard Levine, “to celebrate together and be festive and show our love.  It is with great hope that I bring in the New year with all of you”.  Nevada City Mayor Evans Phelps shared similar sentiments, as she stood in what she called “her favorite spot in the city”.

In addition to lighting the menorah, there was a raffle, food, music, photo booth, crafts and a hysterical show of magical comedy.

Senator Ted Gaines presented Rabbi Nochum and Chyena Yusewitz with a Certificate of Honor upon being newly appointed as the directors of Chabad of Nevada County.   Bar Adam, a young mother of 2, who recently moved to Nevada City said “This event is proof of what we all know.  There are hundreds of Jewish families here.  We just need someone to pull us all together, so that we can keep our tradition and our faith alive for ourselves, and most importantly, for our children.”  Bar looks forward to future programming that Chabad will continue to offer in Nevada County.

For more information or to be updated on future events, call Rabbi Nochum Yusewitz (530) 404-0020, or email  Photos of the Menorah Lighting and other Chanukah festivities organized by the Jewish community this year are posted on Facebook: