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‘Fire on Ice’ Celebration in West Hartford Will Combat Hate with Light

A Giant Ice Menorah will be carved and kindled as part of the Community Chanukah Celebration at Blue Back Square in West Hartford. Image from 2017 Fire on Ice courtesy of Chabad

Invigorated efforts to spread even more light and Jewish pride in response to an uptick in anti-Semitism and the tragedy in Pittsburgh will be the focus of the 11th annual ‘Fire on Ice’ Chanukah celebration on Dec. 2 in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square.

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Hundreds of residents from all over Connecticut will kick off the holiday of Chanukah as they observe a master ice-carver sculpt a giant Menorah from a raw block of ice, at what has become one of West Hartford’s mega events, and the largest Chanukah celebration in the state. 

The unique experience, part of the annual “Fire on Ice” celebration  at Blue Back Square in West Hartford, held annually on the first Sunday of Chanukah, this year marks the first night of the Chanukah festival. The super-sized Ice Menorah will be lit as part of the free event, hosted by Chabad of Greater Hartford.

“Chanukah is a holiday of light and freedom from religious oppression, where few overcame the many, and light triumphed over darkness,” said Rabbi Shaya Gopin, of Chabad of Greater Hartford. “In light of the recent uptick of anti-Semitism in our area and the terrible tragedy in Pittsburgh, we need to strengthen our Jewish pride and spread light and goodness to combat this darkness. It is so important that we all come together regardless of background. The strength that exists in our combined unity will truly turn this dark period to light” said the Rabbi. 

Gopin emphasized that this event is free of charge and open to all, young and old.

“Fire on Ice” will be held on Sunday, Dec. 2 (the first night of Chanukah) at 4 p.m. The celebration will be held at Blue Back Square in West Hartford, in the courtyard area near Barnes & Noble.

This year there is a change to the Chanukah essay contest. Children (up to age 13) are encouraged to write an essay on “How can I spread light?” The objective is to encourage children to think how they can make a difference in their environment and see themselves as ambassadors of light and goodness!

The winner will read their essay at the lighting ceremony and win a Dragon Tablet, smart watch or Tin Can robot. The essay, with a 300 word maximum, should be submitted to [email protected], with the subject line “Essay Contest,” by Nov. 25.

Chabad is working closely with the West Hartford Police Department and there will be a heightened security and police presence at the event, officers in uniform and those who won’t be visible.

A special “Tree of Life” Menorah with pictures of the 11 victims of the Pittsburgh massacre will be unveiled at this year’s event. Participants will have the chance to add notes of well wishes to the families and Mitzvah- good deeds resolution on the Menorah.

Other special highlights this year are:

  • A live concert by award-winning Six13 Groupwith their unique Jewish songs ranging from hip-hop dance tracks to rock anthems.
  • New this year –  The Chanukah escape room!
  • At the peak of the celebration will be the “Great Chanukah Gelt Drop” held in conjunction with the West Hartford Fire Department. Firefighters from the WHFD will sprinkle chocolate coins from the top of the extended ladder of a fire truck. Children of all ages can collect the many coins as they “rain” down from above!

In addition, the program will feature:

  • Floating Menorahs with Inventor Mentor, hands on Science and invention, air science, fog ring launchers, foam makers and more.
  • Laser Engraving
  • Chanukah Nails manicure
  • Glow-in-the-dark face painting
  • Free raffle
  • Arts and crafts 
  • Doughnuts
  • Food for sale 
  • Activities for all ages.

Heaters and tents will be set up so that the event can take place regardless of the weather conditions, and delicious Kosher food will be available for sale.

For more information regarding “Fire on Ice,” please call 860-232-1116 or visit www.ChabadHartford.com.

About Six13

Six13 is a groundbreaking, six-man a cappella vocal band that brings an unprecedented style of Jewish music to the stage, with songs ranging from hip-hop dance tracks to rock anthems. The members of the New York City-based group sound like a full band – while using nothing but their voices.

Six13 is a national phenomenon both on the internet (with over 8 million views on YouTube) and in traditional media, featured in national television and press like The Today Show, The View, CBS, CNN, Huffington Post, Time Magazine and more. They have performed at the White House for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and are three-time finalists in casting for NBC’s prime-time hit “The Sing-Off.” Music from their seven award-winning albums has been adapted by choirs worldwide and played on mainstream radio across the globe. Bruno Mars liked their Passover version of his song so much, he posted it on his own Facebook page.

The group’s seven award-winning albums have over 20,000 copies in circulation, and are among the top Jewish music artists on iTunes; their songs have been chosen for ten “best-of” compilations to date. They are three-time finalists in casting for NBC’s prime-time hit “The Sing-Off”.

About Chanukah

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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