Annual menorah lighting ceremonies kick off in NYC

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Annual menorah lighting ceremonies were held in Brooklyn and Manhattan Thursday night with new COVID-19 safety protocols to mark the first night of Hanukkah.

The ceremony to light the world’s largest menorah – standing at 32-feet-tall and weighing about 4,000 pounds – started at 5:30 p.m. at Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza outside the southeast corner of Central Park in celebration of the first night of the festival of lights.

The event was put on by The Lubavitch Youth Organization, and this year the menorah was outfitted with new LED lights up and down the frame to honor the more than 27,000 New York victims who died as a result of COVID-19.

“The idea of Hanukkah is to shine and to celebrate the freedoms and the light over darkness and this is a very difficult time for everyone and we need to those Hanukkah lights to brighten up the world now more than ever,” Chabad Rabbi Motti Seligson told The Post earlier Thursday.

Mask requirements and social distancing protocols were in place for the few dozen attendees of the event, which was livestreamed.

“Because of where [the menorah is] placed it’s an opportunity for families to drive by at any time during Hanukkah and really be inspired or meditate or think about the message of Hanukkah,” Seligson said.

At Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, the ceremony to light the borough’s largest menorah began at 5 p.m.

Roughly 100 people attended the lighting — put on by the Chabad of Park Slope — and all wore masks and practiced social distancing.

“It’s different. It’s much smaller than I’ve seen,” said Alonna G., a Park Slope resident who attended the lighting with her husband and two children.

Workers preparing the world’s largest Chanukah Menorah at Grand Army Plaza at 58th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan.
Workers preparing the world’s largest Chanukah Menorah at Grand Army Plaza at 58th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan.
G.N.Miller/NYPost

“There is no big politician here and that is the first time that’s happened in my lifetime,” she said.

During the ceremony, Rabbi Simon Hecht reminded attendees to “please keep on your masks and keep social distancing.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio spokesman Mitch Schwartz said that both events required city permits and that “the groups holding the permits [were] responsible for keeping everyone safe.”

The groups signed COVID-19 safety affidavits in order to hold the menorah lightings, said Schwartz.

Additional reporting by Nolan Hicks