Every year as Hanukkah—the Jewish festival of lights, latkes, donuts and dreidels—rolls around in NYC, a conversation takes place regarding two massive menorahs located across the East River from one another in the city.
Fun fact: although commonly referred to as a menorah, the nine-tiered lampstand that Jews light up for eight nights in a row during the holiday is technically called a hanukkiah (menorahs have seven tiers in total). The shamash, usually placed in the middle or at one far end of the menorah, is lit every night alongside one additional candle daily.
A beautiful tradition beloved by kids and adults alike, the lighting of the hanukkiah is ranked pretty high on "best things to do" lists throughout the holiday season and so it is no surprise that destinations across New York host their very own nightly lighting ceremonies for eight straight days.
Two particular lighting events are considered by many to be the most trafficked around New York: One located at Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Heights and the other at Grand Army Plaza in midtown Manhattan. However, these two menorahs have both, at one point, called themselves: "The Largest Menorah in the World."
Alas, that "dispute" has now been resolved. Following our investigation, we learned that, in fact, the candelabra in Manhattan is the tallest one in the world—but we couldn't help but dive a bit deeper into the matter.
Some history: Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan is found near Central Park, at Fifth Avenue between West 58th and West 59th Streets, and the first hanukkiah was erected there back in 1973 by one Rabbi Shmuel Butman. According to Patch.com, this specific lampstand was designed by famous Israeli artist Yaacov Agam and it is made of steel, weighing roughly 4,000 pounds.
Although a preliminary Google search yields results suggesting that the height of this particular lampstand is 32 feet, Rabbi Motti Seligson, the Director of Public Relations at Chabad, confirms that number to actually be 36 feet.
Over a decade after the erection of the Manhattan hannukiah, in 1984, one Rabbi Shimon Hecht built another one that still stands tall at Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Heights. This one is officially 32 feet high, a fact that corroborates the Manhattan location's claim to fame (the Guinness Book of World Records did bestow the candelabra with the coveted title back in 2006). In fact, the Brooklyn channukiah now boasts a plaque that reads: "Largest Menorah in Brooklyn."
Despite all of the above, according to official Jewish law, the maximum height for a hannukiah is 32 feet. Which means that, although the one in Manhattan is technically the largest one in the world, the one in Brooklyn can be considered the largest kosher one around.
Well, now we know.