NYC Mayor Adams, Israel's UN Ambassador Erdan light world's biggest menorah

Several New York mayors, governors and senators have had the honor of lighting the 36-foot menorah, set up annually by Chabad, which sits on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street near Central Park.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams, Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan light world's tallest menorah on the first night of Hanukkah in Manhattan.  (photo credit: PERMANENT MISSION OF ISRAEL TO THE UN)
NYC Mayor Eric Adams, Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan light world's tallest menorah on the first night of Hanukkah in Manhattan.
(photo credit: PERMANENT MISSION OF ISRAEL TO THE UN)

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams lit the first candle on the world's tallest menorah on Sunday night, the first night of Hanukkah, together with Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan.

“The story of Chanukah is a story of victory of light over darkness," Erdan said at the event. "Our enemies tried to erase our Jewish identity but we refused to surrender and let them win. With faith and determination, the few defeated many.

 The World's Largest Menorah is set up by Chabad-Lubavitch in New York City ahead of Hanukkah, on December 15, 2022. (credit: CHABAD) The World's Largest Menorah is set up by Chabad-Lubavitch in New York City ahead of Hanukkah, on December 15, 2022. (credit: CHABAD)

“Today in a time when antisemitism is on the rise, we are once again fighting the darkness and fighting for our religion and culture. But this time, we are not fighting alone. Here with us is my dear friend, Mayor Adams.”

UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan

"Since then, every year, we light the Chanukah candles by our windows and in public places like here on Fifth Avenue to publicize the miracle and to show the world that we are proud to be Jews and we are not afraid to show it," Erdan continued.

"But friends, today in a time when antisemitism is on the rise, we are once again fighting the darkness and fighting for our religion and culture. But this time, we are not fighting alone. Here with us is my dear friend, Mayor Adams. I want to thank you on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people for standing with us as the Mayor in the city with the most Jews in the world. In the hardest of times, our communities have stood by one another in the face of oppression and racism. And now our communities’ age-old covenant must be reforged. When we are united, evil cannot prevail. And evil will not prevail. As the Rebbe taught us, a little bit of light can dispel much darkness," he continued.

"As I light the menorah, symbolizing the miracles in our history, we pray to God to continue to see miracles today, and in our future.”

Every Hanukkah, the 36-foot menorah —certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest—set up by Chabad, sits at Grand Army Plaza on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street near Central Park, just outside the Plaza Hotel, lighting up the city. Since its inception, a number of notable luminaries and dignitaries have had the honor of lighting the candles of the towering symbol of the Jewish festival of lights, including several New York mayors, governors, senators and more.

The annual New York City tradition is part of the worldwide Hanukkah campaign, an initiative launched in 1973 by the Lubavitch Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. The campaign focuses on creating awareness and promoting observance of the holiday. A menorah lighting has taken place at the location at Grand Army Plaza since 1977.

125% increase in NYC antisemitic hate crimes in November

The lighting ceremony took place as antisemitic hate crimes across New York City's five boroughs more than doubled last month from a year ago, New York Police Department (NYPD) data revealed. The concerning rise unfolded against a backdrop of high-profile figures making headlines for remarks targeting Jews. 

There were 45 hate crimes motivated by antisemitism in November versus 20 in November 2021, according to the NYPD data.

Last week, federal, state and city leaders gathered to discuss the surge of antisemitism, at a forum hosted by the Orthodox Union in Manhattan. During the meeting, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the initiation of a new statewide task force to combat antisemitism.

The event at Lincoln Square Synagogue on the Upper West Side focused on combating hate and enhancing security in Jewish communities. Adams, along with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, condemned the rise of antisemitic attacks. 

Adams, a former New York Police Department captain, said, “I did not spend 22 years of my life as a member of the NYPD protecting the people of this city to surrender to those who believe hate is going to have a foothold in this city. It will not happen."