Traditionally, Manhattan Beach's Metlox Plaza and Hermosa Beach's Pier Plaza draw large crowds in early December each year, with folks gathering to witness the lighting of a giant menorah as part of the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah.
But this year, the tradition wasn't possible, at least not in the way it typically is, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the celebration was marked with a car parade.
Vehicles, some adorned with large menorah magnets, traveled from the Jewish Community Center of South Bay in Redondo Beach to El Segundo's Main Street, then through downtown Manhattan Beach, Hermosa's Pier Plaza, the Redondo Beach Pier and on to the Redondo Beach Civic Center after dark on Sunday, Dec. 13, the fourth day of Hanukkah.
As the caravan made its way throughout the South Bay, Rabbi Yossi Mintz, executive director of the Jewish Community Center, stopped at various points to pass out gifts to children and greet people from a distance.
The car parade wasn't a complete replacement for the popular in-person events, however, Typically, the Pier Plaza event — marked by prayer, songs, and eating donuts and latkes — draws nearly 2,000 people, while the Metlox one brings about 300 to celebrate the festival of light, said Zalman Gordon, an assistant rabbi at the Jewish Community Center, which serves the beach cities.
Still, the traveling light parade, Gordon said, was appropriate both for the holiday and for the challenges of dealing with the isolation and uncertainty of living through the coronavirus pandemic.
"Light is most visible when it is dark. You only notice the lights at night, not during the day," Gordon said. "Today as we are going through a dark period, we have greater power to bring the light of joy, goodness and kindness to those around us."