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Festival of bites: Families to build giant Lego menorah at Chinese feast

Shalom Hanukkah!: Ilona Lyubashevsky, right, pictured with volunteers and kids at the Shorefront Y, said that building a giant menorah out of Lego bricks is a fun way to get families involved in the holiday.
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Let my people Lego!

Families in Brighton Beach will construct a 12-foot-high menorah out of Lego bricks on Dec. 25, while also chowing down on a kosher feast of Chinese food. The “Lego My Egg Roll” event at the Shorefront Y will celebrate two Jewish traditions: eating Chinese cuisine on Christmas Day, and the second day of Hanukkah. The architect behind the construction project says that the massive menorah makes the festival of lights an even bigger deal for kids.

“It really engages them in the holiday. All of the sudden it’s bigger than life — it’s bigger than life for me, and for a 4-foot kid it becomes something really powerful,” said Stephen Schwartz, who travels the country with his wife, using elaborate Lego models of historical sites to educate kids. “Their little menorah back home can’t compare, and it becomes a very engaging way to get kids excited about the holiday.”

During the colossal candelabra construction, family teams will each stack about 10 rows of Lego bricks into a funky pattern, either made up or following a blueprint from Schwartz. Then each section will be piled into a tower of more than 70,000 bricks, which Schwartz will top with a pre-assembled three-foot high, five-foot wide candelabra equipped with real candles. The feat is almost a miracle, he said.

“It’s one of the greatest examples of teamwork you’ll ever see,” said Schwartz. “It’s an amazing thing to watch because everyone is working as a family — each at a feverish pace. The whole thing can be up in an hour and a half. It’s very exciting and the kids go nuts.”

The Shorefront Y invited Schwartz and his wife to schlep their Lego bricks to Brighton Beach in order to spice up the holiday celebration and offer families something different, one organizer said.

“We’re trying to share innovative and new ideas for our community to enjoy as a family and to get everyone involved — the parents, the kids, the grandparen­ts,” said Ilona Lyubashevsky. “It’s something different.”

For dinner, families will feast on Chinese food favorites, including sesame chicken, lo mein, and, of course, egg rolls. The comfort food is perfect for a cold winter night with family, said Lyubashevsky.

“Who doesn’t love Chinese food? It’ll be a fun event to come together as a community,” she said. “It’ll be a night of bonding and building memories.”

“Lego My Egg Roll” at the Shorefront Y in Brighton Beach [3300 Coney Island Ave. between Brightwater Court and the Boardwalk, (718) 646–1444, www.shorefronty.org]. Dec. 25 at 5 pm. $25 for a family of four ($5 each additional person).

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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