In Texas, everything is bigger, and this year Chabad of Uptown in Houston, Texas, will be celebrating Purim with the world’s largest grogger operated by one person.
By Judy Bluestein Levin – Jewish Herald Voice
New Jersey has the world record for the largest dreidel. New York holds the record for the biggest matzah ball. And now, Houston is home to the world’s largest grogger operated by one person.
The brainchild of Cory Weinberg, the grogger is painted red, white and blue like the Texas flag. It is 4 feet wide by 7 feet long. It is so heavy, that just holding it up to spin at Purim, Weinberg expects his back will ache the next day. But, nothing will stop him from using the grogger to drown out Haman’s name during the Megillah reading.
“I was part of Chabad on campus during college, and I built kits for us to do as activities for pre-Purim events and for the holidays,” Weinberg told the JHV. “I built 6-inch versions for the kids, and we painted them and decorated them.”
At the time, Weinberg was studying to become an engineer. Enlarging the design was second nature.
“Back in 2015, I made tiny versions of these, and I took that idea and just made it bigger; just blew it up,” said Weinberg. “So, a 6-inch version became a 2-foot version. And, that’s what I had for years.”
Last year, Weinberg moved from San Antonio to Houston, and he brought the grogger with him. The first event he attended was Chabad of Uptown’s Purim party.
“I stood in the back corner with my grogger that was 2-feet long and I became known as the grogger guy,” said Weinberg.
Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff couldn’t believe his eyes.
“Who’s that guy at the back of the shul with a massive, awesome grogger?” Rabbi Lazaroff recalled.
“The rabbi got all excited to see this one – the small one,” Weinberg said, pointing to the blue grogger. “Then, this past year, I thought, I can go bigger, a lot bigger. I had a whole bunch of ideas.”
At the next Shabbat dinner, Weinberg peppered the rabbi with questions.
“I asked [Rabbi Chaim], ‘How big can I go? Are there requirements? Can you use power?’” asked Weinberg. “What can you and can’t you do because all the holidays are different.”
To Weinberg’s relief, the rabbi told him there weren’t any rules.
“So, I just took the same idea and just made it even bigger. The gears got a lot bigger. The handle got bigger, the length of it – everything just got bigger as I just started designing,” continued Weinberg. “There weren’t really blueprints. It was just I got the idea; let’s just figure it out as we go.”
Now, an engineer and a handyman, Weinberg’s garage was already outfitted with all the tools he would need.
“So, I went home and, in a of couple days, I sent him a picture of [the grogger] built. ‘Is this big enough?’” Weinberg asked the rabbi.
‘Yes’ was the resounding answer.
Beaming at the result, Rabbi Lazaroff boasts a little. He is in Texas, after all.
“This is the single, largest grogger operated by a single individual to blot out the name of Haman. It is right here in Houston – the biggest grogger around the world.”
The rabbi plans to have Weinberg make a lot of noise at the annual Megillah reading at the YJP Purim Out of This World party for young Jewish professionals, ages 21-39, Monday, March 6, at 7 p.m.
“There’s nothing better than going out of this world and going Texas on a grogger,” said Rabbi Lazaroff.
Rebbetzin Chanie Lazaroff is impressed by Weinberg’s involvement since joining YJP.
“We met Cory at our first Purim party at YJP Houston,” Chanie told the JHV. “And so, to continue that a year later is really meaningful.”
The rabbi took a moment to teach a little about Purim and the importance of groggers.
“The custom is to blot out the name of Haman,” Rabbi Lazaroff explained. “And, when we read Haman’s name in the Megillah and the Book of Esther, we want to erase his name.”
The rabbi emphasized the bigger the voice of hate, i.e., the voice of Haman, the bigger the grogger needs to be.
“So, the biggest, baddest, greatest Texas grogger at Chabad of Uptown is going to blot out the name of Haman this year and forever,” exclaimed the rabbi.
Weinberg is already looking towards the future. He and Rabbi Chaim have a plan.
“Next year,” said Weinberg, “we’ll go in front of the rodeo – with an even bigger [grogger].”