EEver since the days of the Maccabees, Jews around the globe have been attempting incredible feats in honor of Hanukkah. One of the most popular pursuits is the creation of the world’s tallest menorah, a goal that may have been reached with the construction of a 60-foot-plus, 17-metric-ton behemoth in Latrun, Israel. Other attempts to earn entry in the record books include the building of a 12-foot high pyramid of fried jelly doughnuts near the Israeli town of Afula, and the coordination of several dozen simultaneously spinning dreidels by the Mayer Kaplan Jewish Community Center in Skokie, Ill.
The Tallest Menorah
According to the Code of Jewish Law, menorahs can be a maximum of 20 cubits high (each cubit equals 18 inches), yet several organizations claim to have lit “The World’s Largest Menorah.” Who is the true winner? While no one has created an official, rabinically approved standard for measuring menorah height, the ultimate goal of these record attempts may not be competition, but rather encouraging people to light their own menorahs. “The real point is to create a highly visible symbol of the message of Hanukkah,” says Rabbi Shemtov of the American Friends of Lubavitch.
In 1997 a menorah was built in Latrun, near the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. It was more than 60-feet tall, weighed 17 metric tons, and took up an area of 600-square meters. A rabbi was lifted in a crane each night of the holiday to light the candles. The menorah, which was made of metal pipes, was erected by the Chabad movement.
The 19th annual lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah took place on December 13, 1998. The American Friends of Lubavitch claim that their 30-foot aluminum menorah is the largest in the world. Prominent dignitaries, including the president, members of Congress, ambassadors, and Jewish communal leaders have attended and participated in the lighting of the National Menorah.
The Lubavitch Youth Organization claimed to have lit the world’s largest Hanukkah menorah in New York City’s Central Park in 1998. The 32-foot high gold-colored steel structure, designed by artist Yaakov Agam, was inspired by a drawing of the original menorah in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. Specially designed glass chimneys protect the lights from the Central Park winds. Due to the height of the menorah, it was lit nightly with the help of a Con Edison “cherry picker” crane.
The Biggest Pile of Jelly Doughnuts
On the first night of Hanukkah of 1997, a 12-foot high pyramid made of 6,400 sufganiyot (fried jelly donughts) was erected near the Israeli town of Afula. The blob was dismantled later, and the sufganiyot were distributed to Israeli soldiers serving along the border with Lebanon. The attempt to get into The Guinness Book of World Records was sponsored by a food store chain.
The Greatest Number of Simultaneously Spinning Dreidels
On December 15, 1998, the Mayer Kaplan Jewish Community Center in Skokie, Illinois attempted to set the inaugural world’s record for largest number of dreidels to be spun at one time. At least 200 people were needed to set the record.