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Brooklyn, NY - Bais Din Settles Dispute, Awarding Title Of World’s Largest To Central Park Menorah

Published on: December 13, 2016 12:05 PM
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FILE - Onlookers watch during the lighting of what is billed as the "World's Largest Menorah" in Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan on December 11, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) FILE - Onlookers watch during the lighting of what is billed as the "World's Largest Menorah" in Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan on December 11, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Brooklyn, NY - It may be technically be the tallest menorah in the world, but as of December 1st, a massive menorah at the main entrance to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park can no longer call itself “The World’s Largest Menorah.”

The 32 foot tall menorah, the maximum size allowed by Jewish law, has been gracing Grand Army Plaza during the Chanukah season since 1984. The menorah is lit each year by Rabbi Shimon Hecht and various community leaders who climb aboard a cherry picker to light the oversized candles.

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But while Chabad of Park Slope has been touting the menorah as the world’s largest, that claim has been disputed by Rabbi Shmuel Butman who has been lighting a menorah of equal height designed by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam across from Central Park for approximately forty years. 

Although Guinness World Records certified the 4,000 pound Manhattan menorah as the world’s tallest in 2006, the Brooklyn menorah actually has a height advantage of several inches because of its longer shamash.

A decision handed down by a Chabad bais din published on CrownHeights.info decided in favor of Rabbi Butman and his Manhattan menorah, noting that the Brooklyn menorah had no right to use the phrase “world’s largest menorah” when it was already in use by another group.

“The purpose of Chanukah is to publicize the miracle [of the oil] and to sanctify the name of G-d and the name of Chabad and not, G-d forbid, the opposite,” wrote the dayanim in the decision.  “When a group comes into a city that already has someone using a description [of world’s largest menorah] without permission, it can damage the reputation of Lubavitch, especially when the media covers the story [of the two competing menorahs.]”

Large Public Menorah (Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht Menorah) during Chanukah in front of the NY State Supreme Court Building in Downtown Brooklyn New York CityLarge Public Menorah (Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht Menorah) during Chanukah in front of the NY State Supreme Court Building in Downtown Brooklyn New York City

The decision ordered Chabad of Park Slope to stop using the title “world’s largest menorah” immediately and to either close or modify a website by the same name to reflect the bais din’s ruling.  Chabad of Park Slope was also instructed to only use descriptions that would not cause any confusion such as “the largest menorah in Brooklyn.”

In keeping with the bais din’s ruling the website WorldsLargestMenorah.com now redirects to a page of the Chabad of Park Slope website with the header “The Largest Menorah Brooklyn New York.”  A Facebook page dedicated to the menorah changed its profile picture on December 8th to a photograph bearing the same verbiage.

Rabbi Hecht’s son, Rabbi Moshe Hecht, told news outlet Brooklyn Paper that Chabad of Park Slope was concentrating not on semantics but on the upcoming holiday.

“The menorah is the same menorah,” said Rabbi Hecht. “We’re really just focusing on making this Chanukah the greatest ever.”

A third official menorah located in Brooklyn Heights in front of the Brooklyn Supreme Court building near Borough Hall, clocks in at 25 feet and gives Kings County at least some bragging rights.

“We’ve got two huge menorahs and they’re got one,” said former borough president Mary Markowitz. “Enough said.”



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Read Comments (17)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Dec 13, 2016 at 12:51 PM zackk Says:

Oy. So embarrassing. Perhaps the Beis Din made a bigger chillul Hashem by even taking up this issue then what the media could have ever done.
Besides, why can't manahattan be the largest counting width and brooklyn be the tallest (it is).

2

 Dec 13, 2016 at 12:56 PM Mark Levin Says:

Glad that's worst thing going on in lubyville.

3

 Dec 13, 2016 at 01:00 PM CHAIM36 Says:

Only a bes din from CHELM would even think of this nariskeit to get involve.

4

 Dec 13, 2016 at 01:12 PM alterknaker Says:

B"h not any worse problems

5

 Dec 13, 2016 at 02:32 PM Lubavitcher Says:

I am embarrassed. Both parties are as bad as the other - I don't know which one started it, but the other was clearly quite happy to join in. This was news on the Chabad websites a few weeks ago & for what it's worth, EVERY comment was one of disgust, embarrassment and ridicule. Another popular response was contempt for their egos.

Please understand: it seems these two have nothing more pressing to worry about. But the reality is, they really do. Don't judge the level of common sense in Chabad by these two. The vast majority of us, including our Shluchim and educators, would never let such a stupid, petty squabble over something so ridiculous reach these epic proportions. I am just as certain the Rebbe would have nipped this craziness in the bud at the first "mine is bigger than yours." This is NOT what we are about & they certainly don't represent Chabad.

6

 Dec 13, 2016 at 02:37 PM cynic Says:

How's about calling one the "largest" and one the "biggest"?
Kind of like how (before they merged) the two biggest makers of Swiss Army Knifes agreed that one could be the "original" and one the "genuine"

7

 Dec 13, 2016 at 04:40 PM makaman Says:

Reply to #5  
Lubavitcher Says:

I am embarrassed. Both parties are as bad as the other - I don't know which one started it, but the other was clearly quite happy to join in. This was news on the Chabad websites a few weeks ago & for what it's worth, EVERY comment was one of disgust, embarrassment and ridicule. Another popular response was contempt for their egos.

Please understand: it seems these two have nothing more pressing to worry about. But the reality is, they really do. Don't judge the level of common sense in Chabad by these two. The vast majority of us, including our Shluchim and educators, would never let such a stupid, petty squabble over something so ridiculous reach these epic proportions. I am just as certain the Rebbe would have nipped this craziness in the bud at the first "mine is bigger than yours." This is NOT what we are about & they certainly don't represent Chabad.

Just because you don't understand what is at stake doesn't make it silly, beis din only accepted the case after r. Butman complained about a loss of money (people donate because of the fact that it's the biggest). Maybe it's not the worst problem in the world but to those involved it's a big deal and the reason that we have a BD

8

 Dec 13, 2016 at 04:49 PM BMG Says:

Reply to #5  
Lubavitcher Says:

I am embarrassed. Both parties are as bad as the other - I don't know which one started it, but the other was clearly quite happy to join in. This was news on the Chabad websites a few weeks ago & for what it's worth, EVERY comment was one of disgust, embarrassment and ridicule. Another popular response was contempt for their egos.

Please understand: it seems these two have nothing more pressing to worry about. But the reality is, they really do. Don't judge the level of common sense in Chabad by these two. The vast majority of us, including our Shluchim and educators, would never let such a stupid, petty squabble over something so ridiculous reach these epic proportions. I am just as certain the Rebbe would have nipped this craziness in the bud at the first "mine is bigger than yours." This is NOT what we are about & they certainly don't represent Chabad.

Unfortunately, Lubavitch Youth Organization simply DOES represent Chabad/Lubavitch in the Greater New York City area (and possibly also Long Island!).

Also, this Bais Din DOES also represent Lubavitch - it is Vaad Rabbonei Lubavitch of the U.S.A. and Canada.

Therefore, although you, Mr. "Lubavitcher" are NOT representative of Lubavitch, these parties and rabbonim involved in this foolishness ARE prime representitives of Lubavitch.

9

 Dec 13, 2016 at 06:43 PM Mir Guy Says:

Reply to #7  
makaman Says:

Just because you don't understand what is at stake doesn't make it silly, beis din only accepted the case after r. Butman complained about a loss of money (people donate because of the fact that it's the biggest). Maybe it's not the worst problem in the world but to those involved it's a big deal and the reason that we have a BD

I credit them for going to BD. Many in their community simply go to court.

10

 Dec 13, 2016 at 07:31 PM Anonymous Says:

With all the fraud and child molestation in our community, this is what they focus on?

11

 Dec 13, 2016 at 07:38 PM lakewooder Says:

This is apropos for the naarishkeit of lighting a menora in the street.

Keep Torah, not Xtianity!

There is nothing Jewish about a Menorah in the streets. At home and in shul, nowhere else

12

 Dec 13, 2016 at 09:55 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
lakewooder Says:

This is apropos for the naarishkeit of lighting a menora in the street.

Keep Torah, not Xtianity!

There is nothing Jewish about a Menorah in the streets. At home and in shul, nowhere else

I agree. The nararishkeit of lighting "neros in the courtyards" - there is nothing Jewish about it, total Xtianity! Sadly, the "Haneros Hallolu" records the lighting of the "neros" in the courtyards.

We must immediately change the "Haneros hal'olu" by deleting "v'hidliku neros b'chatzros kodshecha". Then the Haneros Halolu will conform to Lakewooder's Judaism.

Let us make an Asifa!

13

 Dec 14, 2016 at 08:33 AM BMG Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

I agree. The nararishkeit of lighting "neros in the courtyards" - there is nothing Jewish about it, total Xtianity! Sadly, the "Haneros Hallolu" records the lighting of the "neros" in the courtyards.

We must immediately change the "Haneros hal'olu" by deleting "v'hidliku neros b'chatzros kodshecha". Then the Haneros Halolu will conform to Lakewooder's Judaism.

Let us make an Asifa!

Good point but you probably mean the "Al Hanissim" (not "Haneros Hal'olu").

A further elaboration on your point: It should say "b'chatzar" singular, not "b'chatzros" plural, which implies that MANY menoras were lit in multiple courtyards of Yerushalayim as explained in Avudraham:
אבודרהם בחצרות קדשיך ע"ש [ישעי' ס"ב ט'] בחצרות
קדשי ושם מדובר ע"ד העיר ירושלים

There are valid sources for outdoor public lighting of menoras but suffice to say that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was a recognized godol b'Torah v'halacha, and if he says so, that is good enough for us (even if we have another custom or follow another shitah).

14

 Dec 14, 2016 at 08:58 AM L'fi Dati Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

I agree. The nararishkeit of lighting "neros in the courtyards" - there is nothing Jewish about it, total Xtianity! Sadly, the "Haneros Hallolu" records the lighting of the "neros" in the courtyards.

We must immediately change the "Haneros hal'olu" by deleting "v'hidliku neros b'chatzros kodshecha". Then the Haneros Halolu will conform to Lakewooder's Judaism.

Let us make an Asifa!

The Chasam Sofer (Derashos Vol 1, pg 67) writes that they removed the Menorah from the Temple, and lit its candles outside, in the Temple courtyard. He cites proof that such a lighting is indeed permissible. Incidentally, this caused the miracle of Chanukah to receive much greater public recognition than it would have had the Menorah been lit in the Temple sanctuary, where only the Kohanim would have been privy to the miracle. Today too we can also bring this form of persumei nissa by lighting menoras in public "courtyards", and a brocha can be recited on a lighting of persumei nissa (as evident in the lighting at shul).

15

 Dec 14, 2016 at 09:53 AM Old Neias Says:

Outdoor menorah lighting is an old debate. Is it a mitzvah or not? Lubavitch does it. Litvish generally don't (with some minor exceptions). To each his own. Be respectful of others. Now move on. There is nothing new here.

16

 Dec 14, 2016 at 02:53 PM msb18 Says:

Reply to #3  
CHAIM36 Says:

Only a bes din from CHELM would even think of this nariskeit to get involve.

must me a bunch of people from chelm

17

 Dec 14, 2016 at 08:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #16  
msb18 Says:

must me a bunch of people from chelm

Takes one to know one.

18

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