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