Public Menorah lightings

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all! On Sunday night (the first night of Hanukkah) I went to the public lighting of the world’s largest menorah. It was a 32 foot, 4000 pound steel candelabra with gas lamps in a windproof casing. It was designed by Israeli artist Yaakov Agam, inspired by the original menorah that was in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago. Mayor Bloomberg lit the wicks, symbolizing the first of eight nights of the Jewish festival of lights. There was quite a crowd there on the corner of 59th St. and 5th Ave., right near Central Park. This menorah, and about 700 more located all over the world are organized by the Chabad organization and this year have the added significance of standing strong in honor of those who were killed in the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Another popular New York City public lighting took place on Sunday night at Washington Square Park.

The other “world’s largest menorah” is lighting up Washington, D.C. It’s located on the Ellipse, just across from the White House.

Other large scale lightings are taking place all week long in Santa Monica, San Francisco, Honolulu, and Chicago, as well as in 732 more cities in 47 countries worldwide.

Check out this youtube video

from the Chabad of Malibu about their candle lighting initiative. And if you’re curious as to HOW to attend a public lighting, ehow’s got you covered.

Happy holidays!
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Free NYC! (Thing to Do and See)

New York is an expensive place to live, but it doesn’t need to be an expensive place to play! There is so much to do in the city for free, so get a piece of paper and start taking notes (or just hit print):

Always free: The National Museum of the American Indian, the New York Public Library, the Hispanic Society of America, Central Park, Riverbank State Park, Prospect Park, the Socrates Sculpture Park, and Castle Clinton National Monument.

Free on Fridays: The American Folk Art Museum has a lot of character and is free on Friday nights from 5:30-7:30. The Guggenheim (talk about character!) is also free (or rather, pay what you wish) on Fridays starting at 5:45. There’s also music. The Museum of Modern Art is free on Fridays from 4:00-8:00, and the Whitney Museum of American Art opens its doors to the unwilling to pay on Fridays from 6:00-9:00. The American Museum of the Moving Image is also free on Friday evenings, from 4:00-8:00 – a great place to catch up on old You Can’t Do That on Television reruns!

Free on Saturdays: The Studio Museum in Harlem is free on the first Saturday of every month, as is the Brooklyn Museum, but only after 5 p.m. The Jewish Museum of New York City is free every Saturday after 5 p.m.

Other free things to do: Brooklyn Botanic Garden are free on Tuesdays and from 10:00-noon on Saturdays. The New York Botanical Garden (in the Bronx) is free on Wednesdays and also from 10:00-noon on Saturdays.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is free for students (and has a pay what you wish policy for everyone else) and if you save your Met ticket, it can be used as your free pass into the Cloisters Museum.

A lot of this info comes from the National Geographic site (found through Blissful Free Things in NY Travel’s informative post – thanks, Erica!). Thought I’d share the wealth with you all.

You’ll definitely be hearing more from me on this, just in looking these few things up I came across so many other great museums in NYC, less well known ones—that’ll be my next post…so stay tuned!


Related Travel Guide Topics:

Juneteenth – Happy Freedom Day!

I’ve been teaching this whole year based on the theme “Time and Place”, so I seem to live from holiday to holiday. Recently it’s been Earth Day to Cinco De Mayo to Memorial Day, and now Juneteenth. Even though we celebrated Black History Month in February and talking about the history of African Americans then, Juneteenth is a time to specifically commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States. It was on June 19th, 1865 that the abolition of slavery was announced in Galveston, Texas and the Emancipation Proclamation that Lincoln declare two years earlier was finally enforced.

Because I like to think of my classroom as a virtual traveling time machine, we take the week or two leading up to Juneteenth to recall important landmarks and figures (black and white) in the history of slavery and emancipation.

Here is a list of places that we “visited”:

1. Booker T. Washington National Monument, a well preserved plantation that highlights major aspects of slave life in general and the life of Booker T. Washington specifically.
2. Boston African American National Historic Site, because it’s important to remember that not all blacks were slaves, especially in the North, especially in Boston, where African Americans owned homes, businesses, and land pre-Civil War.
3. Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, where John Brown led his heroic insurrection against slavery and the site of one of the largest Civil War battles.
4. George Mason Memorial, commemorating the man who withheld his signature from the U.S. Constitution because it did not abolish slavery.
5. United States National Slavery Museum.
6. New York Historical Society, where we took a nice field trip where we saw artifacts from New York’s involvement in the slave trade.

As a not so well known holiday, Juneteenth has lately been getting significantly more press. Once only a holiday in Texas, Juneteenth is now observed in 26 states, including California, as instituted by Governor Schwarzenegger on June 19, 2005. President George W. Bush also recognizes the memorial of the enforcement of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation with his Presidential Message on Juneteenth.

Happy Juneteenth—go out and celebrate!
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