lyo menorah

The Lubavitcher Youth Organization is a social services organization associated with Chabad, a Jewish Hasidic movement. Since 1977, it has organized the lighting of the World’s Largest Menorah ™ in Manhattan at 59th and Fifth. The menorah is 20 cubits tall. A cubit, as we all know, is a biblical unit of measure based on the length from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow. I’m not sure what the going rate is for cubits these days but this menorah is approximately 33.5 feet tall. Dignitaries such as mayors and senators tend to assist the lighting of the menorah on the first night of Chanukah.

A different organization, also associated with the Chabad movement, began organizing lighting ceremonies of a similarly tall menorah in the New York borough of Brooklyn. A rivalry ensued, along with news coverage using the unfortunate but inevitable ‘size matters‘ pun.

This year, the two organizations appeared before a Chabad rabbinical tribunal to resolve the dispute as to who could use the phrase ‘World’s Largest Menorah’ Such a tribunal may consider secular civil law and that’s where I come in. I drafted papers on behalf of LYO, discussing its U.S. common law trademark claim (the phrase and logo is used throughout the year in connection with LYO activities).

LYO prevailed, and as a token of its appreciation, it asked that I helped light the menorah. So, on New Year’s Eve, the last night of Chanukah, I got into the Con Edison cherry picker.

crop harness

The Con Ed guys fitted me out with a safety harness like this one.

view down fifth

The view of Fifth Avenue 33.5 feet up from the top of the menorah was nice, marred only by that dark tower on 56th Street.

crowd shot rev

. . . and one shouldn’t look down at the crowd.

butane cropped

I was handed a lit gas torch. (note to self at the time: does our insurance cover?)

shamash cropped 2

And the shamash (the one used to light the other candles) was lit!

A belated Happy Holidays to you all!

Typical local coverage of the dispute here and here.