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‘Fire on Ice’ Chanukah Celebration Will Return to West Hartford

The first candle and the shamash of the menorah are lit. Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Connecticut’s largest public Chanukah celebration, hosted by Chabad of Greater Hartford, will once again be held in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square and will include more activities than ever before.

The first candle and the shamash of the menorah are lit. Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The first candle and the shamash of the menorah are lit at Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice’ on Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

By Ronni Newton

The “coolest” Chanukah celebration in the state will be held in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square later this month as a sculptor carves a giant ice menorah which will then be lit as part of the annual outdoor family-oriented event hosted by Chabad of Greater Hartford.

Fire on Ice, now in its ninth year, is traditionally held on the first Sunday of Chanukah – which this year happens to be on Christmas Day, Dec. 25. Activities begin at 4 p.m. in the courtyard of Blue Back Square where a large heated tent will be erected.

Rabbi Shaya Gopin, educational director at Chabad and one of the organizers of the event, said he expects hundreds to attend. “Those who don’t celebrate Christmas should be totally available,” he said. It’s a very positive local event, with great energy associated with it, said Gopin. 

“The theme of Chanukah is how few overcame many, but it is really the conflict of spirit over matter,” Gopin said of the holiday which is known as the Festival of Lights.

“We come together to celebrate the collective light and warmth we can generate as a community. We shine together as a symbol of the power that each one of us has, the potential to spread light and warmth with our individual acts of goodness and kindness. That goodness and brightness dispels vast amounts of darkness,” Gopin said.

“We want people to take the mitzvahs and the message of Chanukah home with them,” said Gopin. “We hope collectively to make the world a beautiful and shining place with each of our individual actions.”

In addition to the menorah carving and lighting, Fire on Ice will feature a fire show, the opportunity to help craft a giant dreidel from Legos, live music and other entertainment, children’s activities, and free raffles and prizes. Yosi’s Kosher Catering will offer food for sale.

New to the celebration this year is an essay contest, and Gopin said that essays from children (up to age 13) must be submitted by Dec. 20.

The essays should be a maximum of 300 words about the topic “What Chanukah Means to Me” and should be submitted by email by Dec. 20 to [email protected]. The email should include “Essay Contest” in the subject line.

There are some fabulous prizes associated with the essay contest, including a Samsung Galaxy tablet, a Garmin Vivo fitness band, and a mini-drone. The grand prize winner will also read his/her essay at the lighting ceremony.

It’s hard to predict the weather for the event this far in advance with any certainty, but it will definitely be raining “money” – in the form of Chanukah Gelt – at Fire on Ice.

Gopin said that the Chanukah Gelt Drop, a new initiative in this year’s Fire on Ice celebration, will involve the dropping of chocolate coins from above for children to collect. The “young at heart” can also participate, he said.

One of the highlights of last year’s Fire on Ice was a torch ceremony that highlighted individual stories of the Jewish experience. Gopin said that some type of similar celebration is in the works.

People really look forward to Fire on Ice, Gopin said. The event is free of charge and open to people of all ages.

For more information call 860-232-1116 or visit www.ChabadHartford.com.

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