Happy Chanukah! Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be celebrating the first full day of the week-long Jewish holiday by lighting the world’s largest menorah on 5th Avenue Monday.
Bloomberg will light the symbolic candelabra at 4:45 p.m. on 5th Avenue and 59th Street, by Central Park, between the Plaza and the Pierre Hotels. The menorah will be lighted all evenings of Chanukah, which starts Sunday and lasts through Dec. 28th.
The 32-foot high, gold colored, 4,000 pound steel structure will be lighted nightly with genuine oil lamps. Specially designed glass chimneys will protect the Chanukah lights from the Central Park winds.
The first lighting of the menorah will be dedicated to a Brooklyn rabbi and his wife. The couple was killed during the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last month.
"The lighting of the World's largest Chanukah Menorah takes on a special meaning this year," said Rabbi Shmuel Butman, director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization, who will light the Menorah nightly together with special dignitaries, "as the Menorah joins the 'unite to light' campaign in memory of the terror victims in Mumbai."
"Unite to Light" is a grass roots Menorah lighting campaign of people around the world lighting the menorah and committing to a mitzvah or good deed. "The message of the Menorah is," said Rabbi Butman, "We are continuing in ever greater strength."
The Menorah -- certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the World's Largest, sponsored by the Lubavitch Youth Organization -- was designed by renowned artist Yaakov Agam. Yaakov Agam's design was inspired by a hand drawing by the Rambam (Maimonides) of the original Menorah in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.
"The Menorah stands as a symbol of freedom and democracy, strength and inspiration delivering a timely and poignant message to each person on an individual basis," said Rabbi Butman.
The lighting of the World's Largest Chanukah Menorah is always the central event of Chanukah for the millions of residents of New York and visitors to the Big Apple. It is also a favorite with the International media who put the World's Largest Chanukah Menorah in the center of their "Chanukah story," bringing the World's Largest Menorah into the homes of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world.
On Sunday, Dec. 28, a special celebration will take place at the World's Largest Chanukah Menorah. The celebration will include live music, singing and dancing, "Chanukah Gelt" for the children and hot 'Latkes' (potato pancakes), the traditional food of Chanukah, will be distributed to everyone.
"We want people to 'taste' the tradition," said Rabbi Butman.