The largest Chanukah celebration in New England, expected to attract more than 1,000 people to West Hartford’s Blue Back Square, will invigorate efforts to spread message of light and Jewish pride in response to a rise in Anti-Semitism.
Israeli superstar Gad Elbaz, currently the most recognized name in Jewish music worldwide, will rock the stage at Blue Back square together with hundreds of residents, kicking off the holiday of Chanukah.
They will watch 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, will this year also mark 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.
“The purpose of this event is to bring the community together for Chanukah,” said Rabbi Shaya Gopin, Educational Director at Chabad. “Chanukah is a holiday of light and freedom, where few overcame the many, and light triumphed over darkness,” he said.
“Especially in recent months where we’ve see heightened anti-Semitism, we need to strengthen our Jewish pride and spread light and goodness to combat this darkness. This event demonstrates this a most powerful way!” said Gopin. He emphasized that this event is free of charge and open to all, young and old.
“Fire on Ice” will be held on Sunday, Dec. 22 (the first night of Chanukah) beginning at 4 p.m. The celebration will be held at Blue Back Square in West Hartford, near Barnes & Noble. “We invite the entire community to participate in this uplifting event,” said the rabbi.
The live concert by Israeli superstar Gad Elbaz, currently the most recognized name in Jewish music worldwide, will be one of the highlights of this year’s celebration. With millions of hits on his YouTube music videos, and through his soulful and contemporary sound, Gad has brought Jewish music to a new level, and continues to serve as a role model to his many fans.
Gad began to sing and write music at age four. He first appeared with his father Benny Elbaz, a popular Israeli singer, accompanying him on the hit song “Father I Love You.” Gad is featured on four CDs with his father and later broke out as a solo artist recording five albums of his own. His top five singles on the Jewish music charts are “Halayla Zeh Hazman,” “Or,” “Hashem Melech,” “Al Neharot Bavel,” and “Hava Nagila.”
Gad’s music intentionally captures the listener by mixing original and biblical texts with ballads, harmonies, Middle-Eastern rhythms and modern pop. Many of the songs are a collaboration between him and his wife Moran, where he composes the music and she writes the lyrics.
Other highlights include:
- At the peak of the celebration will be the “Great Chanukah Gelt Drop” together with the West Hartford Fire Department. Firefighters will sprinkle chocolate coins from the top of the extended ladder of the fire truck. Children of all ages can collect the many coins as it “rains” down from above!
- New – the first ever Virtual Reality Chanukah Experience!
- Chanukah Menorah Contest – Children (up to age 13) are encouraged to create a personally designed Chanukah Menorah, the winner will receive a Fuji Instax camera. All entrants (must be present) with their Menorah receive an Amazon gift card! Menorahs will be displayed at Blue Back.
In addition, the program will feature:
- Trackless Train
- Hot drinks by Starbucks
- Food for sale
- Free Raffles and prizes
- Arts and crafts
- Glow-in-the-dark face painting
- Fresh hot fried doughnuts and latkes
- Activities for all ages.
Heaters and tents will be set up for the event, 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.
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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