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World’s largest menorah lit up Chanukah this year

New York dignitaries join in show of solidarity in the face of darkness.

The world's largest menorah in Manhattan's Grand Army Plaza, Dec. 29, 2016. Credit: Chaim Perl/Chabad.org.
The world's largest menorah in Manhattan's Grand Army Plaza, Dec. 29, 2016. Credit: Chaim Perl/Chabad.org.

A who’s who of New York—from Mayor Eric Adams to NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Edward Caban, the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt, to Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan and Consul General Asaf Zamir—joined in the lighting of the Guinness World Record-certified World’s Largest Menorah at the southeastern corner of Central Park in Manhattan.

The 36-foot menorah in Grand Army Plaza, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South (59th Street)—which was sponsored by the Lubavitch Youth Organization—has become an annual fixture in New York City, with large crowds participating in its lighting on each of the eight nights of the holiday.

“Chanukah is a holiday that celebrates the Jewish people’s remarkable deliverance from those who wished them harm,” said Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman, director of Lubavitch Youth Organization. “When faced with darkness, this menorah serves as a symbol of New York City’s dedication to persevering and celebrating all its citizens as they are. And this year, we’re shining that great symbol ever so bright.”

On the first night of the eight-day holiday, Adams called for an end to hatred and violence. “When we light the menorah tonight, let’s also light something inside ourselves,” said the mayor. “Let’s look at each other as brothers and sisters.”

Erdan quoted the late Chabad Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson—emphasizing the significance of the menorah lighting as a response to antisemitism. “The Rebbe taught us that even a little bit of light can dispel much darkness,” said Erdan.

On the eighth and final night of the festival, there was an “All Lights Night” celebration with Israel’s consul general.

The World’s Largest Menorah was designed in 1986 by renowned Israeli artist Yaacov Agam and was inspired by Maimonides’ hand-drawing of the original menorah in the Temple in Jerusalem. Over the years, the World’s Largest Menorah has been lit by New York City mayors, governors, Sen. Chuck Schumer and many other dignitaries. 

The celebrations carried added significance this year as Jewish communities worldwide mark the year of Hakhel, a once-every-seven-years tradition that sees Jewish gatherings focused on unity and Torah study and practice.

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