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West Hartford Welcomes Chanukah with ‘Fire and Ice’

Dr. Michael Gutman passes lights the torch of Jordan Weinstock as part of 'Passing the Torch of Jewish Continuity' during the Chabad of Greater Hartford 'Fire on Ice' celebration. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Chabad of Greater Hartford marked the first night of Chanukah with the annual ‘Fire on Ice’ celebration in Blue Back Square in West Hartford.

david gelles lights menorah

David Gelles lights the ice menorah at Blue Back Square. Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

Hundreds gathered in the courtyard of West Hartford’s Blue Back Square Sunday evening to celebrate the first night of Chanukah in a very “cool” way, as a giant Menorah was carved from a block of ice and lit by members of the community at Chabad of Greater Hartford’s annual “Fire on Ice” event.

Before the fire met the ice and the 8-foot tall ice menorah was lit, a torch was passed and one-by-one the very different Jewish experiences of five individuals was told. The human chain – “Passing the Torch of Jewish Continuity” – culminated in the lighting of the first “candle by Chabad board member David Gelles. Board member Gene Rosenberg had the honor of lighting the shamash.

The chain was started by Holocaust survivor Nina Jacobs, whose father was murdered by the Nazis and who was hidden in a cellar in Poland throughout the war before being able to move to the United States. Others who received the torch included retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Dr. Michael Gutman and Hall High School senior Jordan Weinstock.

Rabbi Shaya Gopin, educational director at Chabad, led the celebration which concluded in dancing and singing.

“Chanukah is a holiday of light and freedom, where few overcame the many and light triumphed over darkness. This is a universal message that we can all relate to,” Gopin said in a news release announcing the celebration.

“Fire on Ice” also included fire juggling by Jason Pipitone, music by the Hebrew Academy children’s choir, crafts, and food.

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Jason Pipitone juggles fire. Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Jason Pipitone juggles fire. Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Children from the Hebrew Academy perform at Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Children from the Hebrew Academy perform at Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Crowd watches performances at Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Crowd watches performances at Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Rabbi Shaya Gopin (left) with members of the chain of continuity. Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Rabbi Shaya Gopin (left) with members of the human chain that passed the Torch of Jewish Continuity. Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Holocaust survivor Nina Jacobs starts off the Torch of Jewish Continuity. Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Holocaust survivor Nina Jacobs starts off the Torch of Jewish Continuity. Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Nina Jacobs passes the torch. Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Nina Jacobs passes the torch to Elena Roytburg. Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dr. Michael Gutman passes lights the torch of Jordan Weinstock as part of 'Passing the Torch of Jewish Continuity' during the Chabad of Greater Hartford 'Fire on Ice' celebration. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dr. Michael Gutman passes lights the torch of Jordan Weinstock as part of ‘Passing the Torch of Jewish Continuity’ during the Chabad of Greater Hartford ‘Fire on Ice’ celebration. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Jordan Weinstock passes the torch to the youngest member of the chain. Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Jordan Weinstock passes the torch to Jordan Cipriano, the youngest member of the chain. Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Rabbi Shaya Gopin. Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Rabbi Shaya Gopin. Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

David Gelles lights the menorah. Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

David Gelles lights the menorah. 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. 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. Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Members of the human chain dance after the menorah lighting. Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Members of the human chain dance after the menorah lighting. Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Some in the crowd light sparklers. Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Some in the crowd light sparklers. Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A young girl touches the menorah to discover that it really is made of ice. Chabad of Greater Hartford's 'Fire on Ice,' Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A young girl touches the menorah to discover that it really is made of ice. Chabad of Greater Hartford’s ‘Fire on Ice,’ Dec. 6, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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