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.