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Lighting up on Chanukah

Before Rabbi Yosef Langer lit the candles on the "Mama Menorah" in San Francisco’s Union Square Wednesday night, he reminded the crowd that Chanukah kits were available for free, in case anyone wanted to "light up" at home.

What is it with this town?

The big celebration Chabad runs on Sunday is named for Bill Graham, the legendary San Francisco music impresario known for his association with the Grateful Dead and — less so — for his role in bringing the enormous menorah to Union Square.

And if the message wasn’t sufficiently clear, when the lighting was complete, the sound system blasted the Moshav Band’s rendition of the Shlomo Carlebach classic, "Lord Get Me High."

Oh wait, I know exactly what it is with this town.

Kidding aside, Langer is an interesting character. He is said to be the first Chabad emissary who wasn’t born religious. As a recruitment tactic, he used to pass out free tickets to Grateful Dead shows. He’s known to ride around the city on his motorcycle. And he was buddies with Graham, a German-born Jew who emigrated with his family before the rise of the Nazis. 

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