Chanukah Event Returns To Blue Back Square

One of Connecticut's largest Chanukah celebrations is returning to Blue Back Square on Dec. 25, the second night of the holiday.

The event, called "Fire on Ice," has been organized annually by the Chabad House of Greater Hartford since 2008.

Rabbi Shaya Gopin, whose parents founded the Chabad House of Greater Hartford, said the purpose of the public event is to connect Jewish people to their heritage.

"We want to make Judaism accessible to all who want to learn about it and understand it," Gopin, of West Hartford, said. "It gives people a hands-on opportunity to connect with their heritage."

Gopin said the theme of the event, fire and ice, matches perfectly with Chanukah's theme about light.

"The message of Chanukah lends itself to doing something in a public place," Gopin said. "The message of Chanukah is about light. Of lighting up when it's dark. A little bit of light expels vast amounts of darkness. That's something you want to do outside."

To achieve this, the Chabad House will have a menorah carved out of an eight foot block of ice. The menorah will then be lit - like a family might at home during their private celebrations - to achieve light in darkness.

"If you're spreading light and positivity, light will always triumph and goodness will always triumph," Gopin said. "It's a universal message that resonates with people."

There's also an essay contest this year for children 13 and under. They are challenged to write about what Chanukah means to them. The 300 word essays should be sent to by Dec. 20.

"The child should think about the message and make it relevant in their lives in contemporary times," Gopin said.

Gopin said the purpose of the event is for people to take the message of Chanukah home with them.

"I want them to take the message home to show how they can be a source of light and spread light in their own lives," Gopin said. "I want them to observe and light the actual Chanukah lights in their own home. We encourage them to take it home and make the observation personal."

Doing this event in public, Gopin said, is a chance to experience the holiday in a different way.

"By bringing it to a central place in our community, it enables people to connect with it in a very real way," Gopin said. "This is a good opportunity to come together as a community in our beautiful West Hartford. The town is very proud of this event."

The event will also feature a fire show, live music, food, and stations where children can make different crafts. Attendance is free.

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