December in New York City is absolute magic. It’s the month when the bright lights of this big city morph into menorahs and festive sparkles and opulent window displays.
But, the celebrations aren’t all consumer and shopper focused. The nonprofits and charitable organizations in New York know how to put on a show as well as (if not better than) the stores on 5th Avenue.
Here are a few of my favorites.
The World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorah Lighting will begin on December 12 and continue through Dec. 19. There are actually two that claim “world’s largest” fame, one on the Upper East Side at 59th and Fifth Street and one in Brooklyn at the top of Prospect Park. Each is about 32 feet tall, and are lit around sundown each night of the Festival of Lights.
The Charatan/Holm Family Foundation is committed to helping organizations that support Jewish culture, so it’s particularly nice to see such grand displays during Hanukkah.
Another organization that we support, Lincoln Center, where I serve on the Women’s Leadership Council, goes all-out for the holidays. They offer everything from ticketed concerts like Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis’ Big Band Holiday to weekly free events in the David Rubenstein Atrium.
This year there’s also a free exhibit entitled Winter Wonderland: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, Plaza Corridor Gallery.
New York Botanical Garden has been putting on a Holiday Train Show for more than 20 years and it’s a delight to watch kids (of all ages!) interact with the artfully constructed cities and model trains.
The Met, another organization that we support, has a mix of music, art exhibits and even Medieval decorations (at the Cloisters) to choose from this holiday season. Plus, they offer foods that beat the winter weather chill, and are showcasing sugar and fondant sculptures at their restaurants and cafes.
As a volunteer for, and donor to, many of the arts and cultural organizations in New York, I have no problem making one more suggestion. Giving a membership to (or simply making a donation in honor of the giftee) one of NYC’s nonprofits is truly the gift that keeps on giving. I hope small cards that let people visit, engage, explore and delight in the magic of New York’s museums and cultural centers find themselves next to menorahs and under trees all over the city this year.