MANHATTAN (PIX11) — The lights will be shining extra bright in many homes in the New York City area as the first night of Hanukkah settles in.

The world’s largest menorah is at Grand Army Plaza on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, near Central Park. To help ring in the Festival of Lights, the 36-foot menorah will be lit every night for eight nights beginning Sunday at sundown.

Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish people’s miraculous deliverance from those who wished to harm them. The largest menorah in the world is a guiding light for so many, especially amid a recent rise in antisemitism.

Religious leaders will be beefing up police presence at synagogues and Jewish centers due to an uptick in antisemitic attacks around the city.

Just last week in Central Park, police said a man spewed anti-Jewish hatred and knocked a 63-year-old man to the ground. Earlier this month, police said a group of teenagers threatened an 18-year-old with a stun gun in Brooklyn while yelling antisemitic remarks.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorka joined leaders in New York last week to denounce hate crimes and announced a statewide hate and bias prevention unit to address the problem.

Last year, more than 2,000 attacks on Jewish people were the most since the Anti-Defamation League started tracking these crimes 40 years ago.

“The FBI reports at 63% of all religious hate crimes in our country are motivated by antisemitism. According to the Anti-Defamation League, over 2717 incidents of antisemitism across the US in 2021,” Mayorka said.

Despite this darkness, Hanukkah unites people who pray for peace, all while the lights of the menorah shine bright. 

“Thank God we’re going to light the candles Sunday and celebrate what happens to be one of the more upbeat Jewish holidays in that respect,” said Jordan Shamus, the CEO Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.