Jewish Life

Combating Hate with Light

“Fire on Ice” Chanukah focuses on empowering children to spread light

In the wake of the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh, as well as recent studies revealing an unsettling uptick in antisemitism and antisemitic acts in America, Chabad of Greater Hartford has changed the theme of its annual Chanukah essay competition to one that asks children to answer the question “How can I spread light?” The new theme is designed to encourage children (to age 13) to come up with ways to make a difference in the world around them and see themselves as ambassadors of light and goodness!

The contest winner will read his/her essay at the “Fire and Ice” Chanukah celebration to be held in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square on the first night of the holiday — Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m.

As in past years, hundreds of residents from all across the state are expected to be on hand to watch a master ice-carver sculpt a giant menorah from a raw block of ice, which will then be lit.

“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, the event’s sponsor. Given the events of the past few weeks, he says “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.”

A special “Tree of Life” menorah with pictures of the 11 victims of the Pittsburgh massacre will be unveiled at this year’s event.

The evening will also include a live concert by Six13, the award-winning, New York-based a cappella group whose repertoire ranges from Jewish music to hip-hop to rock. Six13 has performed for President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at the White House, and has been featured on The Today Show, The View, CBS, CNN, Huffington Post, Time Magazine and more.

Other Fire & Ice highlights include: A Chanukah escape room!; A “Great Chanukah Gelt Drop” in which firefighters from the West Hartford Fire Dept. will “rain down” chocolate coins from the top of an extended fire truck ladder; floating menorahs with Inventor Mentor: laser engraving; Chanukah nails manicure; painting; arts & crafts; donuts and a free raffle.

“You can’t imagine what it means to a Jewish child when they come and hear joyous Jewish songs in a positive exciting atmosphere celebrating Chanukah in a public setting in the center of our town. This is a tremendous boost of Jewish pride and identity,” says Gopin.

Admission to “Fire and Ice” is free and open to the public (kosher food will be available for sale). Heaters and tents will be set up.

For more information: (860) 232-1116 or

CAP: 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

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