FREMONT -- In a first for the city, a public menorah lighting will take place Tuesday to mark Hanukkah, the annual Jewish holiday that celebrates a religious miracle believed to have occurred more than 2,000 years ago.

The ceremonial lighting of the menorah, a candelabrum with nine branches, is being presented by the Chabad of Fremont Jewish Center, which is dedicated to offering educational and social service programs to the Tri-City-area's Jewish community.

The center, led by Rabbi Moshe Fuss, opened in Fremont last year.

"Jewish people here always tell me that Fremont is a multicultural place, and they see many different cultures celebrating their holidays," he said. "We're doing this so that Jewish children and teens, as well as adults, will be able to express their culture, too, in a public manner."

Tri-City residents are invited to the free ceremony, which will run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Commons shopping center, Fuss said.

A rabbi for five years, Fuss said the gathering will begin with a brief socializing period outside the DSW and Party City stores in the shopping center along Christy Street. At 6:20 p.m., a formal greeting will be followed by the lighting of the menorah, which will be administered by Mayor Bill Harrison.

Those attending then can enjoy a party offering traditional potato pancakes -- known as latkes -- as well as coffee and tea, Fuss said. Arts and crafts and games for children, such as spinning a four-sided top known as a dreidel, with prizes of geld, or chocolate, also will featured.

Hanukkah, which lasts eight nights, began at sunset Nov. 27 and ends at nightfall Thursday.

The holiday celebrates the aftermath of a victorious battle in Jerusalem in 168 B.C., when Jews rebelled against the rulers who had forced them to worship Greek gods. After defeating their foes, the band of Jewish rebels sought to rededicate their temple by lighting a lamp. Though they had enough oil for just one day, the meager supply miraculously lasted for eight days. Hanukkah honors that miracle, as the menorah is lit each night during the eight-day holiday.

Fremont's pioneering menorah lighting was scheduled Tuesday to avoid time conflicts with the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, organizers said. Whatever the day, Hanukkah's meaning remains the same, Fuss said.

"What we're celebrating here is freedom of religion," he said.

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.

If you go
WHAT: Menorah lighting for Hanukkah
WHERE: Pacific Commons, 43732 Christy St., Fremont
WHEN: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
INFO: www.chabadfremont.com/chanukah