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Hanukkah starts December 12th! World’s biggest Menorah, Coolest Menorah lightings in NYC!

Very popular Jewish holiday celebrates religious freedom & revival of beautiful worship.

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A little boy Oskar, a survivor from Nazi Germany, arrives in New York City on the seventh day of Hanukkah. He experiences eight acts of kindness on his way to his aunt on 103rd Street and Broadway. From the children's book Oskar and the Eight Blessings, illustrated by Mark Siegel, written by Richard Simon and Tanya Simon, 2015.


Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah and Chanukkah) begins this year at nightfall on Tuesday, December 12th and ends eight days later on Wednesday evening, December 20th.

The holiday is often called the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication because it celebrates the re-institution of holy and religiously beautiful worship in the Temple of Jerusalem.

The re-dedication of the temple took place after a revolt of the Jewish people against an attempt to forcefully desecrate the temple by erecting a statue of Zeus with sacrifices of pigs within the temple.

After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC (BCE), his empire fell apart with the land of Israel being taken over by one of his commanders, Seleucus. After a ruthless elimination of revivals, he established a dynasty that ruled a vast land that reached all the way to today's India. But it was a troubled time of wars and civil unrest.

His successors of the Seleucid Empire struggled against opponents by war and cultural extermination. It decided to punish a revolt by the Jews with various acculturation measures to wipe out the Jewish religion and identity. One official ordered a Jewish priest Mattathias to do one of the pig sacrifices. Thereupon, Mattathias killed the Seleucid official and with his five sons led a successful revolt.


Oskar was taught to whistle by a New Yorker. It was his first conversation in America. His hunger was alleviated by a loaf of bread given to him by a lady near Trinity Church.


The priest's son Judas Maccabeus, now touted as "The Hammer," cleansed the temple of its pig blood and statue of Zeus and rededicated it in 165 BC (BCE). The history is recounted in the books I & II Maccabbees, which called the incident "the abomination of desolation" prophesied by Daniel. This incident assumed great relevance as a symbol of resisting Roman rule. Jesus may have referred to this cultural meme as a way of explaining future troubles and God's salvation. During the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah), Jesus spoke about the future great "abomination of desolation" (John 10:22; also Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20).  

Symbolically, the revival of Jewish worship is today celebrated by lighting the Hanukkah candles, one each night. Also, in honor of this return of true worship and Jewish identity, the eight-sided toy spinning top called a dreidel was invented and is sometimes brought out to play with during Hanukkah. Since Hanukkah is especially a family celebration, meals and foods play a big role. Foods associated with the celebration include potato latkes, brisket, noodle kugel, donuts and challah bread. According to the last Jewish Community Study of New York, in 2011, 68 percent of Jews in the New York City area light Hanukkah candles — about the same proportion that attend a Passover seder but more than those partaking of any other Jewish rite, including fasting on Yom Kippur.


Largest Menorah lighting for Hanukkah in world?


The Manhattan and Brooklyn Grand Army Plazas are competing to hold the World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorah.

You can gather around the 32-foot-high, gold-colored, 4,000-pound steel holiday icon across the street from The Plaza hotel (Manhattan) to kick off the Jewish Festival of Lights; lightings for that one generally take place at 5:30pm, though it's around 3:30pm on Friday and 8pm on Saturday, bookending the Sabbath.

In Brooklyn, go to the top of Prospect Park to see its similarly sized rival illuminated; lightings are at 6pm most evenings, with Friday’s at 3:30pm and Saturday’s at 7pm. The Brooklyn organizers top Manhattan with a kickoff concert prior to the lighting on Hanukkah’s first night and have music and potato pancakes each evening!

Out and out cool Menorah lightings:

The first-ever Menorah on the High Line!

On the porch at 15th Street! With Hanukkah arts and crafts and music, doughnuts and latkas and lots of fun for the whole family.


The Chabad of DUMBO is throwing its yearly Hanukkah celebration into Fire and Ice at Jane's Carousel

Celebrate the last night of Chanukah with Chabad of Dumbo/the Dumbo Gan and Friends at Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Free Carousel rides! Face painting! Chanukah Arts and Crafts! Watch as the Ice menorah is sculpted by the Artists from Dumbo's very own Ice Fantasies.

Please RSVP to and contact us if you have any questions.


Fire and Ice


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