Celebrating Hanukkah in Brooklyn

A menorah with 2 candles lit with a blue Star of David behind it

Jessica Nelson

New York has the largest population of Jewish people of all 50 states and many of them reside in the hip and gentrified 'hood of Brooklyn. About 25 percent of Brooklynites are Jewish, in fact, which makes Hanukkah in this New York City borough a blast.

Hanukkah will be celebrated from December 22 to December 30, 2019. During that time, Brooklyn Jews will light a 32-foot menorah in Grand Army Plaza, admire special exhibits at all the local museums, sing carols in the park, and attend Hanukkah parties at seemingly every Jewish restaurant and gathering place in town. There will be culinary demonstrations, dances, kids' programming, galas, and plenty more menorah lightings where that came from, too.

So break out your Mensch on a Bench, dust off your ugliest Hanukkah sweater and get in the spirit. Brooklyn has enough to keep you busy all Chanukah long.

Special Exhibits at the Jewish Children's Museum

Take the family to the Jewish Children’s Museum on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights. Here, children can learn about Judaism through a series of interactive exhibits like crawling through an enormous challah or shopping in a kid-sized kosher grocery store. During the festival of lights, the Jewish Children's Museum hosts a series of family-friendly programming, such as donut decorating and dreidel pillow making.

Eat Potato Pancakes at the Latke Festival

The annual Latke Festival is your opportunity (or excuse, rather) to devour scrumptious potato pancakes all day long. This Jewish-leaning foodie event has been going on for more than a decade now. In 2019, it'll be taking place on December 16 at the Brooklyn Museum. Guests will be able to sample inventive latkes from various New York City restaurants (and watch celebrity judges pick the best one) at this annual fundraiser, which raises money for the Sylvia Center.

Help Light the Largest Menorah

Ok, so it's not the largest one in the world (which is actually just across the bridge in Manhattan), but Brooklyn's biggest menorah is pretty stinkin' big. It's a whopping 32 feet tall and sits in Grand Army Plaza during the duration of Hanukkah. The first night, December 22, warrants a big kickoff concert, but you can get a taste of the celebration every night until December 30—latkes and live music included.

Major League Dreidel at Full Circle Bar

There's plenty for the kids to get into, but this Hanakkuh party is purely for the adults. Every year, Full Circle Bar in Williamsburg hosts Major League Dreidel, a fierce competition of who can spin the meanest dreidel. Booze is often involved. If you think you can win the championship, be sure to purchase a Spinagogue to practice on.

Get Your Recipes Right at MOFAD

The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) is hopping aboard the Hanukkah train by offering an expert-run tasting and talk all about fat. This event, hosted by the founders of The Gefilteria and veteran food writer Devra Ferst, is centered around "all the fats that make Hanukkah food so special." It's held at MOFAD on December 11, so you'll have plenty of time to contemplate your recipes before it's time to cook for the big day.

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