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UPDATE NEW LOCATION: ‘Fire on ICE’ Chanukah Celebration Will Return to West Hartford

David Roth of West Hartford had the honor of lighting the menorah at Chanukah Fire on ICE in 2022. Photo credit: Stacey Dresner (we-ha.com file photo)

[Please note that due to the weather forecast, the event has been moved indoors to Emanuel Synagogue, 160 Mohegan Drive, West Hartford, from 3-5 p.m.]

Chabad of Greater Hartford’s annual Chanukah celebration will be held on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, and will include activities for all ages, and children are invited to enter an art contest in advance.

By Ronni Newton

An enormous crowd is once again expected to attend this year’s “Fire on ICE” event, which is hosted by Chabad of Greater Hartford and will be held on the first Sunday of Chanukah. Due to the forecast of heavy rain and the possibility of strong winds as well, a decision was made late Saturday to relocated the event indoors, to Emanuel Synagogue at 160 Mohegan Drive, West Hartford. The time will remain 3-5 p.m.

Organizer, Rabbi Shaya Gopin, said that amid the rise in antisemitism and the war, it’s more crucial than ever for the community to demonstrate Jewish pride, solidarity, and unity, and to stand together and not be intimidated by hate.

“Especially now, when so much hate is being expressed and attempt to intimidate us, we need to strengthen our Jewish pride and stand together,” Gopin said. “The theme of Chanukah is so relevant currently. A holiday where light triumphed over darkness and the Maccabees overcame those who attempted to destroy Jewish life and spirit in ancient Israel, reminding us that even when confronted with much opposition and darkness, a tiny light, an act of goodness and kindness, can dispel much darkness. The Mitzvahs, good deeds we do, make a difference and help our brethren in Israel,” he said.

Fire on ICE will take place on Sunday, Dec. 10, which is the fourth night of Chanukah, and one of the highlights of the event will be the sculpting of a giant ice menorah which will be lighted once darkness falls.

The event will begin at 3 p.m. – which is earlier than it has started in the past in order to best highlight the music by 8th Day, a Hasidic pop rock band based in Los Alamitos, CA, and have the menorah lighting at the end and conclude the event before it gets chillier outside.

‘The band was such a hit. They’re really contemporary, and this gives us more time to have a concert,” Gopin said. He noted that 8th Day’s music has appeared high on the Alternative Rock, World Music, Reggae, and Jewish Music charts for the last decade.

Town Manager Rick Ledwith confirmed that for safety and security purposes, it works better holding the event in the Town Hall parking lot, rather than on LaSalle Road where it was held last year.

Gopin said Chabad very much appreciates the partnership with West Hartford Police, and security measures will include uniformed and plain clothes officers as well as additional surveillance from multiple locations.

The “Be the Light” art contest will return this year, and children are encouraged to submit their artistic renditions based on the theme: “A little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness – I can be the light by spreading goodness!” The objective of the contest, according to Gopin, “is to encourage children to think how they can make a difference in their environment and see themselves as ambassadors of light and goodness.”

Submitted art can be in any form – a drawing, painting, photograph, sculpture, or cartoon – and the winning entry will appear on the cover of the next issue of West Hartford Magazine (and will be featured on We-Ha.com). Other prizes will also be awarded.

Artwork must be submitted to [email protected] before Dec. 5 to be included, and the winner will be announced on stage during the Fire on ICE celebration.

There will also be a “Light Up Wall,” where participants can fill out a “flame” with a good deed and add an actual LED light to the wall.

“For a child to celebrate publicly and proudly in the center of their town, has a great impact on a child’s identity and sense of Jewish pride,” Gopin said. “This also says something about the beauty of our diverse town and community.”

The “Great Chanukah Gift Drop,” another favorite tradition at Fire on ICE, will also take place this year as members of the West Hartford Fire Department sprinkle Chanukah gifts and chocolate coins from the top of the extended ladder of a piece of apparatus. Children of all ages will be invited to collect the treats that “rain” down from above.

There will be activities for people of all ages, including:

  • Trackless train
  • Photo booth
  • Hot drinks
  • Food for sale
  • Free door gifts and prizes
  • Arts and crafts
  • Glow-in-the-dark face painting

Chabad of Greater Hartford will also distribute menorahs, candles, and “Chanukah-at-home” kits to those celebrating at home.

Fire on ICE is and open to people of all background, but registration is required at www.FireonICE.info.

Chabad will be organizing giant menorah displays and public menorah lightings and other activities throughout the state. To find a local event in Connecticut, or practically anywhere throughout the world, visit the international Hanukkah event directory at www.ChabadHartford.com/103839.


About Chanukah

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, begins this year on the evening of Thursday, Dec. 7 and ends on Friday, Dec. 15. It recalls the victory of a militarily weak Jewish people who defeated the Syrian Greeks who had overrun ancient Israel and sought to impose restrictions on the Jewish way of life and prohibit religious freedom. They also desecrated and defiled the Temple and the oils prepared for the lighting of the menorah, which was part of the daily service. Upon recapturing the Temple only one jar of undefiled oil was found, enough to burn only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight. In commemoration, Jews celebrate Chanukah for eight days by lighting an eight-branched candelabrum known as a menorah. Today, people of all faiths consider the holiday a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness. Additional information about the Hanukkah holiday is available at www.ChabadHartford.com/Hanukkah.

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