"Oh Hanukkah oh Hanukkah come light the menorah," as the song goes. And in Brooklyn, you can join in a community lighting of the "world's largest menorah," in Grand Army Plaza. The problem is, there's more than one huge outdoor menorah in Brooklyn — and at least one in Manhattan. So, as a matter of Brooklyn pride, just which one is the "world's largest menorah," anyway? There cannot be TWO of the "world's largest menorah." Or can there?
And further, where else can a homesick Brookynite, away from home at Hanukkah, find another mega outdoor menorah like the one at Grand Army Plaza, complete with festive candle lighting and, yes, free latkes?
How Big is the Grand Army Plaza Menorah in Brooklyn?
It takes a cherry-picker to reach the top of Brooklyn's huge menorah, but to get to the question of size, we sought the answer from the Chabad experts whose orthodox Jewish congregation in Brooklyn is responsible for bringing the world's largest (or perhaps second largest) menorah to Grand Army Plaza in Park Slope every Hanukkah.
Here's what we learned in email correspondence with a Chabad spokesperson regarding the Grand Army Plaza menorah:
"The most elevated the eight candles can be and still be halachically kosher (meaning acceptable in Jewish law) is 31 feet and 5 inches. This is based on the measurements of Rabbi Chaim Naeh OBM."
"Our menorah has two heights – the 8 branches are 31’ 5” feet from the ground. The Shamash (the middle candle) is 33’ from the ground. So the eight candles are actually lower than the highest point of the menorah, making it a halachically legal menorah."
The above information, it is worth noting, does not exactly answer the size question. Suffice it to say that the various huge outdoor menorahs in New York City, if set up by Chabad, are probably all about same size, are all kosher in the above sense, and therefore are, collectively, all the largest menorahs in the world.
Ask a simple question, get a complicated answer.
Tips for Travelers -Where Homesick Brooklynites Can Find Outdoor Mega Menorahs
- Domestic Travel:
As Brooklyn is not alone in having a huge outdoor menorah, should any Brooklynites traveling during the holiday find themselves away from home — or even in Manhattan! — they can make a bee-line to other outdoor mega-menorahs, similar to Brooklyn's own gigantic Grand Army Plaza menorah. They can be found in:
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Miami Beach, Florida
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Columbia University, New York (listed by Habad in a list of cities, apparently, for these purposes, a world within a world in New York City)
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Niagra Falls, New York
- Temecula, California
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Washington, District of Columbia.
And should a stray Brookynite find herself in LA during Hanukkah, then there's always the huge menorah at, where else, Universal Studios.
- International Hanukkah Travel:
(These also offer the opportunity for community holiday candle-lighting festivities every night of Hanukkah — just like at home._
Have a latke in Liverpool. Do a hora in the Hague. Globe trotting Brookynites who miss celebrating Hanukkah in cozy Park Slope can find the world's almost-biggest menorahs, plus free latkes, in over two dozen locations abroad, from Uruguay to the Ukraine:
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Barcelona, Spain
- Berlin, Germany
- Brussels, Belgium
- Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Cherkassy, Ukraine
- Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other locations Israel
- Frankfurt, Germany
- French Alps, France
- Hague, Holland
- Kiev, Ukraine
- Krasnoyarsk, Russia
- Liverpool, United Kingdom
- Melbourne, Australia
- Minsk, Belarus
- Montevideo, Uruguay
- Moscow, Russia
- Offenbach, Germany
- Pontault Combault, France
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Rome, Italy
- Rostov, Russia
- Stokholm, Sweden
- Sydney, Australia
- Umhlange, South Africa
- Vienna, Austria
- Wellington, New Zealand
Ah, and so the question? Yes, Brooklyn is home to the world's largest menorah — but it's not the only place to be so.