Despite what Chabad and the City of New York may claim, it appears that the largest menorah in the world is neither the 32 foot high one to be lit in Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn (pictured above), nor the one designed by Yaacov Agam that will be lit on Fifth Avenue (apparently also known as "Grand Army Plaza," terribly confusing to all Brooklynites, pictured to the right), beginning December 20th, 2011. I'm shocked too. I mean, Chabad even owns the webpage "www.largestmenorah.com."
No, as reported in the New York Times just over a year ago, the world's largest menorah is in...Indonesia! Indonesia? Where Judaism isn't even an officially recognized religion? Where, during World War II, Jews were scapegoated and placed in concentration camps by the Japanese? Where Jews were killed or forced to leave after World War II and during the 1950s? Didn't all the rest emigrate? Aren't there only, like, 20 Jews left in all of Indonesia? I mean, Israel and Indonesia don't even have diplomatic relations! And yet...yes, Indonesia!
New York Times article from November, 2010, Manado, the second largest city in Sulawesi, is home not only to the fourth-tallest statue of Jesus in the world, but also to a 62 foot tall menorah. According to the article by Norimitsu Onishi, the menorah was erected at the cost of $150,000 by the government of this largely Christian region. The Jakarta Globe reports that the menorah was the brainchild of Denny Wowiling, a local legislator who "proposed building the menorah after learning about the one in front of Israel's Knesset," in the hopes that it would help attract European tourists and business.
For more about Manado's small Jewish community, check out this article from Jewish Times Asia (where according to the website, as I post this, it is already tomorrow - neat!), this one from "Vos Iz Neias?" (a rather bizarre site, but the article has terrific photos), or best of all, this video about Indonesia's Jewish Micro-Minority from the VJ movement. Happy Chanukah!