Israeli NBA player Deni Avdija, a forward for the Washington Wizards, on Thursday participated in a Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony in Rockville, Maryland.

Avdija lit the menorah at Rockville Town Center in Montgomery County with the local Jewish and Israeli community, reported WDVM TV.

“Those little things with the community, especially with the Jewish community, being far away from home, it’s not easy to celebrate the first Hanukkah out of home,” Avdija said after the menorah lighting. “I want to say thank you to the people who came here and supported me and light the menorah with me.”

This year’s Hannukah marks the first that Avdija has had to spend away from home and without his family, noted WDVM.

At Thursday’s celebration, Avdija chanted the Hannukah prayers, sang songs and answered questions from young and old fans in Hebrew, and signed autographs.

Avdija was selected 9th overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2020 NBA draft, making him the first Israeli to be drafted in the top ten in NBA history.

His first NBA season ended prematurely when he had to be wheeled off the court following a bad ankle injury last April.

This season, Avdija is averaging 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game off the bench. As of Friday, the Wizards have a 14-8 record which is good for third in the Eastern Conference.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)