They don’t call Hanukkah the Festival of Lights for nothing!
And in “they,” we mean the Teitelbaums.
The Mill Basin family has lit up their house like no other, giving the Jewish holiday known for the igniting of one candle a night for seven nights the kind of bling usually reserved for the goyim and their little thing called Christmas.
Every corner of their property on Avenue T near E. 62nd Street is covered in a sea of blue and white lights, illuminated dreidels, dancing rabbis, and, of course, a Hanukkah bear — all surrounding a six-foot-tall menorah.
Beth Teitelbaum and her husband Dan have been lighting up the night during the holiday season for 15 years — ever since their daughter, Arielle, asked if they could do it to their old house in Sheepshead Bay back when she was 3.
“She asked us why we can’t have lights like our Catholic neighbors did,” Beth explained. “My husband and I looked at each other and said, ‘Why can’t we have lights?’ ”
But getting the house well lit wasn’t as easy as flicking a switch.
Stores had very few decorations, save for the Hanukkah bear and a few lights, so Dan hit the wood shop and made many of the dreidels and decorations from scratch.
The Teitelbaums’ decorating tradition continued when they moved to Mill Basin, which — unlike the early years in Sheepshead Bay — was open to some holiday competition.
“The first year we put up our decorations, some of them ended up in the street,” she remembered.
“We hoped it was the wind and put the lights back up and never had another problem. Even our neighbor, who is Italian, helped up build the menorah.”
Today the Teitelbaums’ humble abode is Brooklyn’s official Hanukkah house (they have a proclamation from Borough President Markowitz saying so), which they dedicate to a different person each year. This year the display remembers deceased family friend Mark Fisher who, according to the family’s Facebook page, died in the prime of his life.
The Teitelbaums may have also touched off a surge of Jewish pride in the neighborhood.
“When we first moved here, I didn’t see much in terms of menorahs in the window, but now, I see all kinds of stuff in windows,” Beth explained.
Brooklyn’s Hanukkah House [6222 Ave. T between Mill Avenue and E. 63rd Street in Mill Basin]. The lights go on at dusk. For more info one can visit the Teitelbaum’s Facebook page.
Reach reporter Thomas Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2525.