Chanukah in Israel goes to new heights

JERUSALEM — Israel marked the beginning of Chanukah last week amid efforts to take holiday traditions to new heights.

Among the menorahs lit in ceremonies around the country was a 60-foot-tall version constructed by the Lubavitch movement outside Latrun, which is near Jerusalem.

Lubavitch officials claimed that the menorah, built with metal pipes, was the world's tallest.

They planned to use cranes to light it during the eight nights of the festival.

In the northern town of Afula, staff from the Movenpick chain of restaurants tried to create the world's highest pyramid of sufganiot, the jelly doughnuts traditionally eaten during the holiday.

About 6,400 doughnuts went into the pyramid, which organizers hoped would break the current Guinness world record of 5,000 doughnuts set in 1993 by a New York bakery.

Organizers said that once the pyramid was dismantled, the doughnuts would be distributed to soldiers serving along Israel's northern border and to children living in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona.

More traditional candle-lighting ceremonies were also held around the country.

President Ezer Weizman lit a menorah at an official ceremony in his residence in Jerusalem, marking an unofficial start to the country's 50th anniversary celebrations.

Candle-lighting ceremonies were also held at eight national parks around the country — and more than 30 foreign leaders lit candles in their respective countries — to mark the start of the festival and the jubilee celebration.