It’s no secret Chanukah menorahs come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and feature any of a number of materials in their construction. And year after year, Chabad-Lubavitch centers across the globe employ a host of different candelabras to drive home the message that the eight-day Festival of Lights needn’t be consigned to the private domains and the ordered way of the world.

Among the festivities that are shaping up to be the talked-about events of the holiday is a Jewish Heritage Night coordinated with the participation of the Miami Heat professional basketball team. Scheduled for Tuesday night—the fifth night of Chanukah—the stadium-wide celebration at American Airlines Arena is designed, in the words of Rabbi Chaim Lipskar, director of The Shul of Downtown, to “maximize the sharing of Chanukah.”

“With 20,000 people there, we can really spread the holiday’s light,” he added.

Jointly sponsored by Chabad of South Florida and the Miami Jewish community, the full evening of activities will begin before the game’s tip-off with musical entertainment from 8th Day, a Jewish rock band from California. The band will appear once more during halftime, and will be joined by a choir of 22 boys from the Lubavitch Educational Center in Miami.

In the arena’s east plaza, a 13-foot menorah painted in the Heat’s team colors of red and black will be lit with torches. In addition, a nine-foot electric menorah will stand near the court throughout the match against the Toronto Raptors.

According to Lipskar, who planned the evening with Rabbis Pinny Andrusier of Chabad-Lubavitch of Southwest Broward and Alexander Kaller of the Chabad Russian Center of South Florida, more than 1,500 tickets to Jewish Heritage Night have already been sold. Besides admission, the tickets allow fans to partake of a completely kosher food court set up at the arena, a first for the Miami Heat.

After the match, celebrants will continue the party on the court itself, where they will be able to shoot free throws, enjoy Chanukah-themed music and receive holiday-related prizes.

As at events elsewhere in the world—a full directory can be found on the Jewish Web site—attendees at the Miami party will be able to receive a free Chanukah menorah-lighting kit if they don’t have their own menorah.

Taking Their Menorahs Out

On the other side of the Sunshine State, the Jewish community in Florida’s panhandle will be following up on previous years’ chocolate and ice menorahs with a nine-foot-high candelabra made from helium balloons.

“We try to make Chanukah exciting every year,” said Rabbi Shalom Loeub, program director of Chabad on Campus serving the Tallahassee campus of Florida State University, who is organizing the Sunday-night celebration at nearby Lake Ella.

Past Chanukah menorah-lightings have included candelabras made entirely of LEGO pieces, like this one in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Past Chanukah menorah-lightings have included candelabras made entirely of LEGO pieces, like this one in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Based on attendance figures from prior holiday bashes, Loeub said that he expects more than 200 people to attend this year’s party.

But while Chanukah menorahs that tower over the public and are made of chocolate grab attention from their sheer oddity, at least one community center has opted for a different approach in their holiday programming. Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, director of Chabad at Flamingo at the Ernest Manson Lubavitch Centre in Toronto, said that instead of going up, his community will be taking their menorahs out.

“We issued a challenge to create 70 new public menorah-lightings this year,” explained Kaplan.

Almost two months ago, the rabbi told his congregation that the Hebrew year 5770 required something extra special for Chanukah. Since 770 is the numerical equivalent of a Hebrew word meaning “to gather strength and spread forth without limits,” Kaplan said that holding public lightings in all possible places was a worthwhile goal.

As of the beginning of this week, the community had scheduled more than 40 such lightings in places as diverse of coffee houses, office buildings and local schools.

Meanwhile, in Southern California, alumni and graduate students at several campus-based Chabad Houses in the area made final arrangements this week for a grand Chanukah party on Dec. 17, the seventh night of the holiday.

Rabbi Dovid Gurevich, co-director of the Chabad House serving the University of California, Los Angeles, said that more than 250 people were expected at the party, which will feature the lighting of a six-food-tall menorah.

“Anyone in need of a Chanukah menorah will be given a free menorah-lighting kit,” echoed his wife, Elisa Gurevich, “so that they, too, can personally celebrate the holiday.”