Mike Lavi’s Hanukkah assignment called for creativity, engineering know-how and Lego savvy.
The 27-year-old engineer-in-training was asked by his rabbi to design the tallest menorah in Texas using thousands of Legos. The purpose for the assignment was to bring the community together during this year’s Hanukkah celebration.
This week, Fort Worth’s Congregation Ahavath Sholom unveiled the masterpiece, said Rabbi Andrew Bloom. The project, which used between 45,000 to 50,000 Legos, stands in the synagogue’s main sanctuary. It has electric lights at the top that are being lit throughout the Hanukkah season. A smaller Lego menorah — about 5 feet tall — is lit with candles.
“It’s very, very moving,” Bloom said, explaining that the 16-foot structure was completed Dec. 6, the the first night of Hanukkah. “We had adults crying. We had children cheering. It was a spiritual moment.”
Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, commemorates the Maccabees’ triumph over the armies of Syria, about 160 years before Christ. The quest for religious freedom includes a story of how an eternal light burned for eight days even though there was only enough oil for it to burn one day.
During Hanukkah, Jewish families reflect and each night, light a candle on their menorahs.
“I feel honored to be put in charge of it,” Lavi said, describing how he has been working on the project since July. “Hanukkah is always a fun holiday — seeing all the lights lit is always beautiful.”
Bloom said they are sharing with their celebration with the entire Fort Worth community on Sunday.
“Bring the kids and have fun,” said Ben Herman, treasurer of the synagogue, adding that there will Hanukkah cookies, choir performances and food.
When the menorah comes down, the Lego pieces will be donated to charities or hospitals that help youngsters, Bloom said.
The menorah helps celebrate religious identity, Bloom said.
“There is a lot of darkness in society today,” he said. “Hanukkah is the holiday of lights. It celebrates culture, identity and Judaism rising up against oppression.”
If you go
Sky High Miracle of Lights
▪ Hanukkah festivities and menorah lighting at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 4050 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth
▪ 6 p.m. Sunday
▪ Information: ahavathsholom.org or call 817-731-4721