Thoughts turn to Israel as 3rd light is lit on Union Square menorah

As a third light was lit Saturday on Union Square's 25-foot-tall menorah in San Francisco, the crowd reflected on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

Several people who attended said their thoughts were with family in Israel this Hanukkah.

"It is difficult to celebrate with everything going on," said Vilen Gabrielyan of San Francisco, who has family in Israel. "We try to compartmentalize those things, and kind of still try to keep it as a way to spend time with family, and celebrate the best we can."

Also in the crowd was Mike Passow from New Jersey, who said he was in town for a conference, and unable to be with family this holiday.

"My thoughts are very much with Israel. I have family there, I have friends there, I have colleagues there," said Passow.

A tradition during Hanukkah is to extend a wish of light and love.

"It’s still a time to celebrate love and light, because despite what’s going on, we should keep our faith and keep our hope up," said Julie Eiman-Verdi. "I just wish for everyone to be happy and arm in arm together one day."  

A menorah lighting ceremony will take place each day in Union Square through the eighth day of Hanukkah on Thursday.