Building blocks of faith: Shorefront Y builds Lego menorah for Hanukkah • Brooklyn Paper

Building blocks of faith: Shorefront Y builds Lego menorah for Hanukkah

Light it up: Stephen Schwartz, from Building Blocks Workshops, tops off the Lego-built menorah at the Shorefront Y on Dec. 25 and lights the candles for Hanukkah.
Photo by Erica Price

This Hanukkah party came together in a snap!

Kids and parents built a 13-foot-tall menorah from Lego bricks at the Shorefront Y on Dec. 25. The event was a first for the Brighton Beach community center, and it was a great way to combine kids’ love of building with holiday tradition, according to a leader at the center.

“It was a new perspective — taking something that the kids love to do and connecting it to the Jewish tradition of celebrating Hanukkah,” said Anna Bronfman. “Every kid got to build a piece of that menorah, and it was lit in front of everyone. They were a part of the process of building it.”

The holiday celebrates the miracle where an oil-burning menorah stayed lit for eight days on just one day’s fuel.

Twenty modern-day families got to see the fruits of their labor after the menorah — made entirely of geometric plastic pieces — was complete and lit, said organizer Stephen Schwartz, the head of Building Blocks Workshops, which educates kids about religious and historical events through Lego.

“To get young kids excited about the holiday, that’s the whole idea of this, because when you’re a youngster, three-and-a-half feet tall, this thing looks like it’s about 100 feet tall,” he said.

But the project was as much for children as it was for parents — kids-at-heart sent their own progeny to retrieve pieces for them as they erected the candelabra, said Schwartz.

“Most of the time, the parents love it more than the kids,” he said. “Somebody has to be building back at the table, and parents were telling the kids ‘I need more red, I need more white,’ because the parents can’t believe how much fun this is.”

Schwartz schlepped more than 100,000 pieces of the brightly colored blocks to the Shorefront Y so that participants could sift through them for their favorite colors to build the menorah. And the result of everyone working together is always a unique masterpiece, he said.

“I encourage them to be creative and do something they recognize in the menorah so they will know their piece,” said Schwartz. “I think this program is one of the greatest examples of teamwork, because you contribute a little piece to make something much bigger than you could do on your own — and in such short time.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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