Hanukkah festivities marked by faith, fun.

   They filled seven barges and sang Hanukkah songs such as "I Have a Little Dreidel" and "Oh Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah" as they waved to people who were eating or strolling along the River Walk on Sunday.
The ninth annual Hanukkah on the River attracted some 800 people, mostly Jewish, to the outdoor Arneson River Theater, where they watched a fire and juggling show and the lighting of the third candle on a giant menorah.

But the highlight that brought people to their feet was a Jewish Latino band from Argentina called Kef and its upbeat dance music. Children with balloons tied to their wrists wiggled their bodies to the rhythm of the music and didn't seem to care who was watching.

"This is such a beautiful event," said Annette Solomon, who was visiting San Antonio with her husband, Dennis, from Pretoria, South Africa, and another couple from Houston.

It was their first time in San Antonio and they had their sights set on the River Walk, thanks to the recommendation from their friends from Houston.

But neither of the couples, both Jewish, knew about the event.

"We just stumbled onto this, and it's absolutely wonderful," Annette Solomon said, clapping her hands while band members, who wore black pants and black vests with bright lime green shirts, bounced around on stage to a lively song.

Chabad Lubavitch of South Texas and Arts San Antonio organized the event in cooperation with community synagogues and Jewish organizations.

"Once in a while, you stumble onto something, like this event, that really resonates with people," said Rabbi Chaim Block, executive director of Chabad Lubavitch of South Texas.

Danny and Lucy Ortega decided to bring their two young sons, Anthony, 8, and Chris, 6, to the event so they could be exposed to a different religion.

"I think it's good to show them that not everyone is Catholic, and not everyone celebrates Christmas the way we do," said Lucy Ortega, who admits she grew up not knowing a lot about other cultures and customs. "I want my boys to be curious and ask lots and lots of questions, and what better way than to bring them to fun events like this."

For Riki Levin, 20, who moved to San Antonio more than a year ago from Kfar Chabad in Israel, the event reminded her of home.

"In my country, people are gathering all over to celebrate the way we are doing today," said Levin, who teaches preschool at Chabad Lubavitch of South Texas. "This is so nice to see all these Jewish people come together to celebrate like a family."