Kids build Lego menorah

Chabad rabbi extols new and creative ways to involve children Monday, December 10, 2007

PEORIA - A towering, 7-foot-tall menorah made from 4,000 Lego pieces was built Sunday afternoon as the highlight of Peoria's annual Hanukah celebration, but lighting it will have to wait.

"We're always looking for new, creative ideas on how to get the children involved," said Rabbi Eli Langsam of the Chabad of Peoria. "We decided to do something really exciting to get kids involved so they can see their work and appreciate the holiday."

About a dozen children began stacking together the large Duplo Lego pieces on Sunday to form the base of the multicolored menorah, which was going to be lit with special lanterns in the presence of state legislators and city representatives later that night.

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But icy roads prevented many from attending, so the lighting ceremony and other scheduled activities were postponed until 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Chabad of Peoria, 5614 N. University St.

"Thank God for eight days," Langsam said.

The eight-day celebration of Hanukah began Dec. 4 and ends Wednesday. It is observed by lighting a menorah each night of the holiday.

Brick by brick, the structure slowly grew taller than the children, who measured its height against their own while their parents took pictures.

"My love of the holiday of Hanukah and my excitement of spreading what Hanukah is all about to the public is what my primary motivation was," said Peoria resident Leah Ketay, who braved slick city streets to bring her 9-year-old daughter, Karen, to help build.

"This will create a lasting impression and impact on her," Ketay said.

Chabad centers across the world are doing similar displays of the menorah, said Langsam, who obtained blueprints of the Lego menorah from other centers.

"This is the first time we're doing Legos," said Paul Small, president of the Peoria Hebrew Day School, which participated in the build. "I think it's a great idea and it got the kids involved."

With some help from grown-up hands, the base was completed in just less than two hours, and an elaborate, previously-built top was placed upon it.

"I think it's awesome that the kids are getting excited about it," said Nechama Kupfer, a New York native who teaches at the Hebrew Day School.

"By getting the kids involved, they appreciate the holiday," Langsam said. "Then, they get excited about their Judaism."


Kevin Sampier can be reached at 346-5300 or [email protected].