A slightly smaller one also is being lit nightly in Brooklyn, and several NYC synagogues are live streaming lighting services.
The two outdoor menorahs are at their respective Grand Army Plaza locations, at Central Park and at Prospect Park.
Because of Covid-19 social distancing rules, live music, dancing and latkes are being suspended.
Whether you spell it Hanukkah or Chanukah, it’s a festival of lights, commemorating the victory of the Macabees over the Greek-Syrian opressors in the second century BC.
The Manhattan menorah is 32 feet high and weighs 4,000 pounds, and is certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest menorah.
A cherry picker hoists the official who lights the oil lamps. It stands at Grand Army Plaza, in between the Plaza Hotel and the Apple Store, at the edge of Central Park.
Lighting times vary daily, between 5pm and 7pm, except on Friday, when the lighting is at 3:30pm, before Sabbath begins, and Saturday, at 8pm, after Sabbath ends.
The lighting schedule is essentially the same for the menorah at the Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, at the foot of Prospect Park.
Lighting times are below.
First night of Hanukkah
Actors Temple in the Theater District, which was founded by theater people, is live streaming its First Night services, which includes traditional songs.
Thursday, December 10th, 5:30 PM
- Meeting ID: 824 5486 5672,
- Passcode: 078775
- or by phone: 646 876 9923,
The temple also is live streaming its special Hanukkah Shabbat service, on Friday at 7 PM, the second night of Hanukkah, with a Sing Along, and Open Mic, with comedians, musicians, and more.
This event is one of three in the Young Friends Light Up the Night Instagram Takeover series.
Stream a Hanukkah service
While Hanukkah rituals takes place primarily in the home, you can attend a virtual services, especially on Shabbat.
Central Synagogue in Manhattan streams services online, including Hanukkah services.
Temple Emanu-El will hold a special Hanukkah and Shabbat service featuring the premiere of the temple’s Koolulam video, a story told by Rabbi Davidson, and a Zoom candle lighting for members on Friday, Dec. 11 at 6pm.
Actors Temple in the Theater District also livestreams its services.
The Story of Hanukkah
In the second century BCE, Jerusalem was ruled by the Seleucids, a Syrian-Greek dynasty.
When they tried to force the Jews to worship Greek Gods, a small group led by Judah the Maccabee, revolted, and defeated a larger, greater army, and reclaimed the Temple of Jerusalem.
When the newly victorious Jews went to light the Temple menorah, they found enough oil for just one day.
Miraculously, that one-day supply lasted for eight days until a supply of new olive oil could be prepared.
The special Hanukkah Menorah holds nine candles. The center center candle, the shamash (attendant), is lit first and used to light the others.
One candle is lit on the first night, and another added each night until all all eight candles are lit.
Each Menorah lighting includes special blessings and songs.
The traditional Hanukkah menu is rich with fried foods, including potato latkes, to honor the miracle of the oil. Depending on choice, latkes are eaten with applesauce or sour cream.
Children play with the dreidel, a spinning top with four Hebrew letters on it. Children can win small gifts depending on which letter lands up when the spinning stops.
Children also receive Hanukkah Gelt, chocolate money covered in foil. Why? As Tevye said in Fiddler on the Roof, I don’t know why, but it’s a tradition.
Lighting of the Largest Menorah in Brooklyn:
- 12/10, 5pm;
- 12/11, 3:30pm;
- 12/12, 7pm;
- 12/13, 5:30pm,
- 12/14-12/17, 6pm