Thousands of Hanukkah Revelers Gather at Star-Studded Night 3 Menorah Lighting at The Grove

Actor Josh Peck, singer/songwriter Nissim Black, TikTok star Montana Tucker draw massive crowd
December 31, 2022

The Grove was the place to be in Los Angeles for night three of Hanukkah. 

Thousands of revelers showed up to take part in The Village Synagogue’s fourth annual menorah lighting event in the heart of The Grove shopping center. 

Even if it wasn’t the busiest shopping week of the year (but it very much was), the crowd would still have been shoulder-to-shoulder. The event was billed as “the largest Hanukkah celebration in California,” and was punctuated with an illustrious cast of talent and speakers.

The event is organized by Rabbi Zalmy Fogelman, who founded The Village Synagogue in 2016, aiming to “bring the joy of tradition, the spirit of community, and the beauty of our heritage to every millennial.”

“Listen closely to the message of the flickering flames and the message the candles are telling you,” Fogelman told the crowd. “Your one teeny flame can light up the darkness. Your courage, your voice, your jewish pride will bring much needed light.”


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Fogelman also gave special thanks to the sponsors, the Caruso Family, the Holocaust museum of Los Angeles, Malibu Beach Inn at Carbon Beach and the Shine a Light on Antisemitism platform. Theirs and other sponsorships  kept the event entirely free and open to the public. As a result, night three at The Grove felt much like a small village atmosphere.

Songwriter Nissim Black had the enthusiastic crowd bouncing and singing with every beat. No song got a more rousing response than Black’s hit song, “Hashem Melech 2.0,” released in 2016 with Gad Elbaz. The chorus lyrics, “Hashem Melech, Hashem Malach, Hashem Yimloch Le’olam Vaed” radiated throughout the entire shopping center. Black also played hits, “Victory,” “Adored,” “Higher” and “Fly Away.”

Former Mayoral candidate Rick Caruso, who owns The Grove property, welcomed the massive crowd and wished everyone a Happy Hanukkah. 

“I wanted to be here tonight to thank the Jewish community—without the love of the Jewish community, without the light of the Jewish community, the joy, The Grove would not be what it is today.” said Caruso. “I just want to say how very blessed I feel, and I think we all are. Tonight, there are so many people that are going to sleep on the streets that don’t have food on their table, that don’t have shelter. I feel very grateful and I know all of you do too.” 

Dr. Hillel Newman, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles, encouraged the crowd to stick together in the face of antisemitism.

“Just like the Maccabees, so many years ago, we need to stand together united and proud of our identity,” Newman said. “Here we are, proud and united in the face of a different challenge. All we need to do is get together like an evening like this.”

Newly elected Los Angeles City Council Member Katy Yaroslavsky then came to the stage. 

“It’s been a hard year for Jews…over the past year, over one in four American Jews has been a victim of antisemitism,” Yaroslavsky said. “But tonight, as we light this exceptional menorah and as the night becomes a little bit brighter than the night before, we’re reminded of unity dispels darkness and hate. “

Yaroslavsky then singled out the work of Shine a Light, a platform that convenes organizations and companies to call out antisemitism. She then introduced the most special guest in attendance: Holocaust survivor Joseph Alexander.

Between 1939 and 1945, the Nazis sent Alexander to twelve different concentration camps in Germany and Poland, including Auschwitz and Dachau. And exactly one month ago, he turned 100 years old. 

“Happy Hanukkah, welcome everybody,” Alexander said to the amazed crowd. “It’s a pleasure to see you here. My name is Joe Alexander and I’m a Holocaust survivor from Poland and I survived twelve camps.”  

Alexander then introduced TikTok star Montana Tucker, who recently interrupted her usual repertoire of dance videos to release a ten-part documentary of visiting Holocaust sites with her mother Michelle. The videos have been seen millions of times. 

“I just want to say it is such an honor to stand here on this stage with this incredible person here— a Holocaust survivor,” Tucker said, gesturing to Alexander. “Both my grandparents are Holocaust survivors. My Zaidy unfortunately passed away at 97 three years ago, but my grandma is still alive at 94 years old. She is a survivor of Auschwitz.”

Tucker continued, “I recently went back to Poland to learn more about the Holocaust and my grandparents’ history. And I filmed a documentary called ‘How to Never Forget’ which is now on my social media. With the rise of antisemitism, we’re all here today to hopefully put an end to it, be the change and bring everyone together and unite everyone no matter what race, religion, ethnicity. We all need to come together.”

Tucker then asked the crowd to sing  “Happy Birthday” to the century-old Alexander. The crowd broke out into a joyous mix of “Happy Birthday” and “Yom Huledet Sameach.”

Alexander smiled while standing spryly. Wearing a bright blue necktie, he then removed his suit jacket to reveal a vest, he rolled up the sleeves of his blue button down shirt and reached for a lit tiki-style torch. With a hand from Rabbi Fogelman, Alexander lit the shamash candle on the 10-foot tall menorah. 

The crowd cheered in delight as the first candle was lit and the prayer began. Tucker stood nearby filming the moment for her more than 10 million social media followers. She then lit the second candle. Television star Josh Peck waved to the crowd and lit the third candle.

Also spotted amongst the speakers was Emmanuel Acho, a former NFL player and author of the New York Times Bestseller, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” Acho made headlines this past fall for standing up for taking a firm stance against antisemitism across his media platforms, calling out fellow athlete Kyrie Irving.

Nissim Black sang one more song before departing for a red-eye flight back to Israel.  

It’s common for Los Angeles locals to recoil at the thought of going to such a busy shopping center at this time of year. As the event concluded and artificial snow rained down, the crowd revelled, knowing that they were just a part of the one of best Hanukkah parties in town.


More information on The Village Synagogue in West Hollywood can be found on their website: https://www.villagesynagogue.com/

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