West Hartford Firefighters lead the inaugural ‘Chanukah Gelt Drop,’ one of many activities at the annual ‘Fire on Ice’ celebration in Blue Back Square.
Submitted by Rabbi Shaya Gopin
Nearly 1,000 residents, of all ages, joined together as they observed a master ice-carver sculpt a giant Menorah from a raw block of ice at what has become Connecticut’s largest Chanukah event.
The annual “Fire on Ice” celebration, held at Blue Back Square in West Hartford on Sunday evening, Dec. 25, marked the second night of the Chanukah festival. The super-sized Ice Menorah was lit by Mr. Morton Weinstein and Dr. Stacy Nerenstone during the free event hosted by Chabad of Greater Hartford.
“Chanukah is a holiday of light and freedom, where few overcame the many and light triumphed over darkness,” said Rabbi Joseph Gopin, director at Chabad of Greater Hartford, as he addressed the crowd at the ceremony. “The light of Chanukah inspires and empowers us, to ignite the light that we all possess, the light of our souls and our eternal connection to G-d. We do so by following the path of our Torah which was instructed by G-d” he said.
A highlight of this year’s program was when the “Chanukah Essay Contest” winner Mark Kirzon, age 10, read his winning essay at the lighting ceremony.
He wrote about when parents were afraid to light the Chanukah lights in the Soviet Union and their personal miracle was coming to the USA where they can now celebrate publicly.
The culmination of the celebration was West Hartford’s first “Great Chanukah Gelt Drop.” Firefighters from the West Hartford Fired Department sprinkled chocolate coins from the top of the extended ladder of the fire engine. People caught the many coins as it “rained” down from above!
Kids also enjoyed the many crafts, 3D Dreidel printing, Chanukah Nails Glow-in-the-dark Face-painting and Chanukah cookie decorating in a large tent constructed in the square. In addition, the program featured a grand fire show.
Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, recalls the victory more than 2,100 years ago of a militarily weak but spiritually strong Jewish people who defeated a ruthless enemy that had overrun ancient Israel and sought to impose restrictions on the Jewish way of life, prohibit religious freedom and force the Jewish people to accept a foreign religion. During the occupation of Jerusalem and the Temple, the Syrian Greeks desecrated and defiled the oils prepared for the lighting of the Menorah, which was part of the daily service in the temple. Upon recapturing the Temple from the Syrian Greeks, the Jewish people found only one jar of undefiled oil, enough to burn only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight days until new, pure olive oil was produced. In commemoration of this event, the Jewish people celebrate Chanukah for eight days by lighting an eight-branched candelabra known as a Menorah. The Menorah is placed in highly-visible place to publicize the miracle, with its message of hope and religious freedom, to all. Today, people of all faiths consider the Chanukah holiday as a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness.
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