On Tuesday, December 27, Turkish Consul General Ömer Önhon, Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz helped to light the Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht Menorah. Standing about 25 feet tall, the menorah is one of the largest in Brooklyn. Thanks to Borough Hall’s new architectural lighting system, the façade of the building glowed blue and white to celebrate the third night of Hanukkah. Consul General Öhnon’s participation marks the first time Brooklyn’s menorah was lit by a representative of a country with one of the world’s largest Muslim populations.
“What better way to celebrate Hanukkah and the holidays than with a rabbi and Consul General Önhon lighting the menorah together and showing the world why in Brooklyn, we are all children of one
G-d,” said Borough President Markowitz. “As home to New York City’s largest Jewish and Turkish populations, it is my sincere hope that the world will look to Brooklyn in 2006 as the blueprint for ushering in an era of everlasting peace. I offer a prayer that in the years ahead all of G-d’s children will share the same freedom that we cherish here in Brooklyn.”
For the first time, the Borough Hall menorah lighting also included Brooklyn’s own Latke Eating Competition. Three competitive eaters, Eric (Badlands) Booker, “Hungry” Charles Harvey and Don (Moses) Lerman, all hailing from the New York region, ate as many latkes as they could in three minutes. Victorious “Hungry” Charles Harvey ate 11 ½ latkes in the allotted time, taking away the Latke Eating Champion Trophy and an all-you-can-eat night out at Dougies BBQ & Grill, a kosher restaurant. The latkes used in the competition were from Benzi Food Products and were cooked by Pastrami Box, a restaurant on Livingston Street.
“I was eager to serve as assistant judge and official taste taster at Brooklyn’s own Latke Eating Contest,” said Markowitz. “Every latke I eat, I do it for Brooklyn — and as long as I’m doing it for Brooklyn, it’s calorie free! I just hope that the sour cream and apple sauce are nearby.”
Hundreds of Brooklyn families enjoyed performances by The Dovid Altein Band and the Yeshiva of Flatbush Choir. Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin of Congregation B’nai Avraham led the ceremony and kosher holiday treats were served. Prizes and free menorahs were also given away. This event was a collaboration between the Borough President, Congregation B’nai Avraham and the Chabad of Brooklyn Heights.