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Families Make Giant Lego Menorah in Briarcliff

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Parents and children gathered at Congregation Sons of Israel on Sunday afternoon to make a giant collaborative menorah out of Legos.

"I think it's a very fun project," said Luke Diamond, 8, as he and his friend Jack Newman, 8, stacked a layer of white Legos over a layer of red. "We're making a red, white and blue pattern."

Families were instructed by architect Stephen Schwartz to use square templates to build square walls of Legos 10 layers high. After a good number of square Lego walls were completed, Schwartz and his wife, Bunny Schwartz, would start stacking them one on top of another until they had made a square pole about as high as an 8-foot-tall ladder.

The pole would then be topped with a giant menorah made out of about 4,000 pieces of Legos, and lit.

"It took about 80 hours over two weeks to make the top of the menorah," Stephen Schwartz said.

The Schwartzes, who live in Livingston, N.J., have overseen the construction of giant menorahs in various locations throughout the tri-state area as well as in Nashville, Tenn.

"This Lego thing started 15 years ago when my daughter who is a teacher was teaching about zoning with Legos," Bunny Schwartz said. "It's not just menorahs. We've also built Jerusalem, the Vatican City and we've built the towns of Morristown, Montclair and Summit."

While most families constructed Lego walls with simple colored patterns, Daniel Singer, the president of Congregation Sons of Israel, decided to take on the challenge of building a Lego wall with a six-pointed star on it.

"I don't know what's more challenging, the Legos or overseeing three kids," Singer said.

Jennifer Hentel, who was Lego building with her 9-year-old son, Isaac Hentel said she grew up playing with Legos and the giant Lego menorah is one of her favorite kids' projects.

Miram Risko, who co-owns the Mike Risko Music School in Ossining, agreed. "I think it's an awesome, fun activity for the kids," she said.

Husband Mike Risko saw a future career inspired by the Legos. "It's good for your engineers," he said.

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