Sunday began the first of the eight nights of Hanukkah.
Jewish communities around the state are coming together to mark the start of the holiday.
Before a packed crowd at Blue Black Square in West Hartford, a menorah was lit as part of an event called Chanukah Fire on Ice.
“The message of Hanukkah is how a little bit of light dispels vast amounts of darkness. It’s the holiday of light where we light the menorah, particularly while it gets dark, which symbolizes we are able to bring light to even the darkest places and each one of us has a little bit of light that can make a lot of difference to their environment,” said Rabbi Shaya Gopin, of Chabad House of Greater Hartford.
Earlier, a master ice-carver chipped away to create the menorah.
While the frozen block might have been the main attraction, many were enjoying the break from bitter cold conditions.
“So far it’s fun. I’m glad it’s warm,” said Miriam Varnai, of Hartford.
Folks could listen to music or grab some food.
There were also plenty of family-friendly activities.
“It’s a really neat setup that they have here. Lots of different ways to celebrate the holiday. You’ve got everything from the ice sculpture to virtual reality. Tradition and modern. It’s really neat,” said Jon Moss of West Hartford.
For many, this was a chance to come together: meeting new people and catching up with old friends.
“I think it’s lovely. It’s wonderful to have people alive and happy and talking to one another,” said Barbara Falkin, of West Hartford.
This is the 12th year for the event, and organizers say every year it keeps growing.
“The theme of Hanukkah is every night we add a candle until we reach the eighth night. The idea is you have to grow and add light. That is why every year we grow and add activities, trying to make this the special celebration it is,” said Rabbi Gopin.