Prospect Heights

Brooklyn’s largest menorah lit at Grand Army Plaza, marking start of Hanukkah

December 14, 2017 By Liliana Bernal Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Hundreds of people gathered at Grand Army Plaza on Tuesday to witness the lighting of Brooklyn’s largest menorah, standing at 32 feet tall.

The lighting launched Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday that will last until the nightfall of Dec. 20. Every night until then at the plaza, the organization, The Largest Menorah in Brooklyn, will light one candle until the nine-branched candelabrum is completely lit.

The menorah lighting is a symbol of Hanukkah to publicly celebrate Jewish freedom. It’s inspired by the defeat of Antiochus’s armies on the hands of the Maccabees and the Temple restoration, according to the Jewish community.

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The tradition has its origins in the Talmud, a rabbinic text that tells a story about how the Maccabees found a jar with oil that was only enough to light the menorah for one day but ended up lasting eight, in what the Jews cataloged as a miracle.

For organizer Shimon Hecht, Rabbi of the Chabad of Park Slope, lighting the menorah is a way to bring light to the world in times of darkness.

The largest menorah in Brooklyn has been lit since 1984, 10 years after the first public lighting in Philadelphia in 1974.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who was one of the sponsors of the event, noted that the largest Jewish population outside Israel is in Brooklyn. He also sent a message about Monday’s attempted terrorist attack.

“Americans do not fall, we are not afraid, we will live free from fear,” Adams said to a cheering crowd.

Public Advocate Letitia James adhered to Adams’ words saying, “This is the time when we celebrate festival of lights, lights over evil, lights over all those who want to destroy us and divide us.”

The crowd celebrated the lighting with live music, free hot latkes and gifts for the children.

The kickoff concert featured performances from Moshav Band, an Israeli-American Jewish rock band considered one of the first groups to mix Jewish music with rock elements.

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