Bloomberg Braves Downpour To Light NYC Menorah
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman guided the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, and the President of the Borough of Manhattan, Scott Stringer, and Ariel Properties executive Shimon Shkury as each kindled Chanukah lights of the World’s Largest Menorah, a 32 foot structure in Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza.
Despite a virtual deluge that soaked the elevated “lighters” and all who came to celebrate the final day of the Chanukah holiday, the Plaza was filed until each of the “lights” – oil lamps with glass chimneys – were lit and glowing.
The massive menorah, also known as a Chanukiah was designed by French-Israeli artist Yaacov Agam. The nine-branched candelabrum is 32 feet tall, 28 feet wide, and weighs 4,000 pounds. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the world’s biggest. Parked near the massive structure was an iconic “Mitzvah Tank” where an international, multi-generational, religious and secular crowd gathered to enjoy hot latkes (potato pancakes), safganiot (jelly donuts) and packages of Chanukah gelt (gold foil wrapped chocolate coins).
Chabad, a Brooklyn-based organization, known for its outreach programs to Jews across the religious spectrum, initiated the Chanukah lighting ceremony in 1977. Since its installation, every mayor of the City has joined in the holiday celebration including the three Jewish mayors, Abraham David Beam, Edward I. Koch, and Michael R. Bloomberg. Rabbi Butman has called the menorah “a symbol of inspiration not only for the Jewish people, but all people, regardless of race, color or creed.”