The Journal News - Lego Menorah (Dec. 10, 2004)

Lego menorah rises at mall

WEST NYACK, NY — A 10-foot-tall menorah made with Legos was erected yesterday on the ground floor of the Palisades Center mall by hundreds of children and their parents.

Organizers said it was the tallest Lego menorah in the world, pending certification by the Guinness Book of Records.

"We are taking all the pieces and making it into one," said Rabbi Chaim Z. Ehrenreich of the Chabad Jewish Enrichment Center in Chestnut Ridge. "The message of Hanukkah is sharing the light that represents goodness and kindness.

Bonnie Ringer of Nanuet, who brought her children, 10-year-old Zachary and 6-year-old Ellie, said the menorah should be built every year.

"It's a wonderful way for us to come together," she said.

"I'm working very hard, its pretty fun," said Zachary.

Bonnie Ringer, concerned that Hanukkah could be over-commercialized, felt the menorah project was a great way to emphasize the true meaning of the holiday.

"I don't want Hanukkah to be an excuse to give gifts," she said. "It's about being together."

Children and parents were given piles of Lego pieces with instructions on how to assemble a block. Upon completion, each block was added to the growing menorah.

Every so often, Rabbi Ehrenreich would grab a microphone and offer spirited directions to the crowd.

"We're on a roll, we're on a roll, keep going," he said.

Best friends Raizy Goldsmith, 32, and Leigh Maller, 28, who each have four children, came from Bergen County, N.J., to take part. Maller's mother, Ronna Heidings, is a member of the Chabad Jewish Enrichment Center.

"We are working cooperatively, strategizing to build a secure base, trying to find the necessary parts," said Goldsmith, who along with Maller is a teacher at a Montessori Yeshiva.

"All these little pieces build one big thing. Each Lego is a person and when our block is put together it's like a city and the entire menorah is a nation, like the Jewish people," Goldsmith said to her daughter, Shira.

"It's fun because it's hard work," said 7-year-old Shira, who was working closely with Maller's daughter, Eden, also 7.

Some 15,000 to 20,000 pieces were used, Ehrenreich said.

The event was sponsored by the Chabad Jewish Enrichment Center and Chabad Lubavitch in New City. The pieces were loaned by the Lego corporation, Ehrenreich said.

Ehrenreich said the idea for the menorah came when he took his son to a Lego building contest at the mall and they realized it would be a fun to do something similar for Hanukkah.

There are other Lego menorah projects in the area, and Ehrenreich thinks it could become a national contest.

"It may grow into one," he said. "We got more kids to a Lego menorah than I've ever seen before. There's 250 kids here."

Latkes, doughnuts and chocolate were offered after the lighting ceremony and dreidel games were played.

(Original publication: December 10, 2004)