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Boro’s big Hanukkah kick off: Giant menorah draws thousands to Grand Army Plaza on holiday’s first night

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They called in the big goy to light this massive menorah!

The city’s tallest mayor celebrated the first night of Hanukkah on Sunday by returning to his home borough to light Kings County’s largest menorah at Grand Army Plaza, delighting thousands of locals who came out to the annual event that one dad called a beloved holiday tradition.

“We’ve been going every year for the past couple years, and the kids love it,” said Yehuda Apfelbaum. “They were just in awe of watching the mayor light the menorah.”

Some 2,000 Brooklynites gathered to kick off the eight-day holiday at the more than 32-foot menorah’s first lighting this season, according to organizers with Chabad of Park Slope, who staged the massive spectacle for the 34th year.

The festivities began with a set by Jewish musical act Pey Dalid, whose members regaled the audience with their special fusion of rock, hip hop, and reggae as hosts handed out around 3,000 latkes and 500 free toys to local youngsters, according to the synagogue’s Rabbi Shimon Hecht, the man in charge of the menorah-lighting events since the colossal candelabra debuted in Brooklyn decades ago.

And at sundown, the tallest mayor in New York City history, Bill DeBlasio — who edges out six-foot-four-inch former Mayor John Lindsay by an inch — lit the menorah, which Hecht touted as “the world’s largest” until 2016, when a rabbinical court awarded the coveted title to a rival candleholder set up in Manhattan.

The court’s ruling, however, did little to dilute the legend and allure of the local menorah, which Hecht now simply advertises as “Brooklyn’s largest,” according to the rabbi.

“There are many menorahs around New York and the world, but this attracts people’s attention and they say, ‘Wow, a giant menorah,’ ” he said.

Those who missed the inaugural lighting can still watch leaders of Chabad of Park Slope light the menorah nightly through Hanukkah’s last day on Dec. 9, according to synagogue leaders, who said attendees should visit their website for more information including timing of events.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Posted 8:30 am, December 4, 2018
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