For years, Chabad public menorah lightings have become an icon around the globe from the White House to the Eiffel Tower.
In 2011, with the newly infused energy in Downtown Detroit, Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov felt it was a perfect time to mark Chanukah in the center of the city and bring the holiday to a larger, more diverse audience. Menorah in the D was born with a 6-foot ice menorah and a very enthusiastic group of 500.
“We wanted to bring the joy of Chanukah and its proud Jewish history and heritage to a larger public stage in Metro Detroit,” said Shemtov, spiritual adviser and founder of The Shul in West Bloomfield. “Chanukah is a perfect time to infuse our community with the bright spiritual light and warmth of the tiny flames that dispel a lot of darkness, and what better stage than the heart of Detroit in Campus Martius.”
Now in its sixth year, Menorah in the D has become the area’s largest community-wide menorah lighting; organizers expect a crowd of 3,500 on Tuesday, Dec. 27, for the lighting of the fourth candle. Students are on holiday break, so the crowd may be even larger. “MaccaDees,” menorah in the D volunteers from 15 local organizations, will assist with the festivities.
“In 2012, we took a leap of faith with an upgrade to a 24-foot, 2,600-pound steel-and-glass menorah designed and built in less than a month by the talented brothers, Israel and Erik Nordin, of the Detroit Design Center,” Shemtov said. The event drew more than 1,500 people to Campus Martius.
This year’s free Menorah in the D event is again hosted by The Shul, in partnership with Jewish Federation’s NEXTGen Detroit, Chabad of Greater Downtown Detroit and the generous support of the Quicken Loans family and other corporate sponsors.
“Our sponsors provide tremendous support not only for the event, but also support for bringing Judaism and a visible Jewish identity to Downtown Detroit,” Shemtov said. “What makes the event so special is it welcomes people of all ages, religions and backgrounds to the city for a night of celebration.”
This year’s festivities features an array of activities, live entertainment, a variety of kosher food and numerous games, crafts and family-friendly fun.
Beginning at 3 p.m., families can enter a heated tent at Cadillac Square, in the heart of Campus Martius Park. Kids of all ages can enjoy Legos, crafts, face-painting and much more. All activities are free.
A variety of kosher food options also will be for sale both inside and outside the heated tent, helmed by Chef Cari.
The lighting of the larger-than-life menorah comes at 5 p.m. In addition, attendees will enjoy performances by fire jugglers and acrobats — and a presentation by BBYO members, who are holding their regional convention that week.
At 6 p.m., the after-party sponsored by the Scott and the Albert apartments kicks off, featuring music, craft beer, and live chef demonstrations and tastings by Hunny Khodorkovsky of the Soul Center Cafe in West Bloomfield.
For more details, visit www.menorahinthed.com.