World's Largest Menorah Lit Up On Fifth Avenue; Universal Message Of Light Over Darkness Especially Prevalent Today

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For many people, Chanukah has a deeper meaning and is steeped in tradition.

On Sunday night, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez took part in a celebration in Central Park.

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They were dancing in the rain on the first night of Chanukah, celebrating the Jewish festival of lights with the lighting of the world’s largest menorah on Fifth Avenue in Midtown.

“I love it here. It’s so nice. It’s so cool. It’s like really exciting,” said Israeli tourist Tal Schallinger.

Jews celebrated the first night of Chanukah on Dec. 2, 2018. (Photo: CBS2)

The holiday is steeped in history and faith, dating 2,200 years when Jews prevailed after their oppressors banned the Jewish religion and desecrated the holy temple.

“Chanukah is a very important holiday because it has a universal message — light over the darkness,” said Shua Brook of Crown Heights. “Everyone has a voice, and when you do the right thing and you stand for any right that people have or should have, you’re going to be victorious.”

It’s a message that has even deeper meaning this holiday, in the wake of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 dead.

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“We’re all Pittsburgh survivors,” one rabbi said. “The menorah stands with a message that do not be afraid, continue.”

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Evan and Aidan Kessler of Phoenix, Arizona, came to see the lighting with their parents, who said the experience was a special addition to their annual traditions.

“Especially what the rabbi had said that everything with Pittsburgh, that it’s not going to beat us. And to all come together and unite and to celebrate this. It was really very meaningful,” Anna Kessler said.

“We light the menorah every night of Chanukah and we give the kids every day different presents,” Erez Kessler added.

Truth be told, many children say that’s what they look forward to most, as well as spinning the dreidel and eating doughnuts.

It’s a sweet way to celebrate.

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There will be a special lighting ceremony at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue every night of Chanukah, CBS2’s Sanchez reported. This year, the organizers have set up 15,000 large menorahs in 100 countries all around the world.