Hanukkah 2015 is in full swing, and to celebrate, Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth, Texas, spent months building a special 16-foot-tall menorah for the Festival of Lights. Not with wood or metal, but almost entirely out of colorful LEGO pieces.
Mike Lavi, the structural engineer that led the community project, estimates that over 45,000 LEGO blocks were used to construct the massive menorah. It measures four feet across at its widest point, and there are various patterns and a few Jewish symbols incorporated into the design of the stem, which was built by members of the congregation and others from the community. Lavi told the local CBS affiliate that he began construction on the top section of the menorah in July and that it was not completed until October. The station reports that the sculpture will be unveiled on the second-to-last day of the Jewish observance, December 13, in a ceremony attended by the city's mayor, Betsy Price.
Texas isn't the only state with its own LEGO menorah. Several others have been popping up around the country, including one that was recently constructed outside of the oldest Orthodox synagogue in Washington, D.C. The Washington Post reports that Rabbi Herzfeld of the Ohev Sholom Synagogue decided to build the 14-foot-tall menorah in front of the place of worship to help him "spread the light." Instead of using actual LEGO pieces, like the Fort Worth congregation, Herzfeld used big building blocks that resemble the smaller pieces, made by a New York-based company called EverBlock.
"I don’t believe there’s ever anything wrong with bringing a smile to people," Herzfeld said in response to the idea that some might find the sculpture inappropriate. "It’s also our job to give people joy in the world." Herzfeld's synagogue is also selling (standard-size) DIY LEGO versions of the blue-and-white menorah.