Jews Lace Up Skates for Chanukah on Ice
Zalmy Yanover from South Africa skates at the Flyers Skate Zone in Atlantic City.
It’s x-mas, and you’re Jewish. The malls are closed and there’s nothing good on TV. So what’s a young person to do?
Go ice skating, of course.
Chabad at the Shore, a Jewish outreach group, hosted its annual Chanukah on Ice on Sunday afternoon at the Flyers Skate Zone. About 200 children and adults came out to skate, eat tradiontal holiday foods and socialize with friends.
“Especially today, a lot of Jewish people are looking for something to do,” said RabbiAvrohom Rapoport, who organized the event.
Chabad is a worldwide organization with about 4,000 centers, Rapoport said. One center came up with the Chanukah on Ice idea, and it spread quickly.
Some men and boys wore yarmulkes and other religious items, while others sported Philadelphia Flyers jerseys. Some women and girls wore the long skirts associated with Orthodox Jewish females, while others wore jeans or leggings. But all had a good time.
Holiday music blared from the loudspeaker, as some hesitant skaters clung to the perimeter of the rink while others raced or showed off fancy footwork on the ice.
As darkness fell, Rapoport called the crowd to gather around a 6-foot menorah, and the group sang holiday songs and recited the blessings for lighting the candles. Men dressed as Maccabees, the heroes of the Hanukkah story, handed out chocolate coins to the children.
Hanukkah celebrates the second-century B.C. victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks, who prohibited Jews from practicing their religion and demanded they worship pagan gods. The Maccabees launched a successful rebellion, but when they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem, they found only enough ritually pure oil to keep the lamps burning for one day. But according to tradition, a miracle occurred, and the oil lasted for eight days.
The lights of the menorah represent not only the miracle, but the soul of each person, Rapoport said Sunday.
“When you place that on the ice, its a symbol of warming up a very cold world,” he said.
But most people at the event were more interested in having a good time and enjoying hot dogs, hamburgers and traditional Hanukkah treats of potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts.
Jason Goldstein, of Linwood, and his son Sam, 4, were dressed in matching Flyers jerseys as they laced up their skates.
“There’s not a lot of activities to do on Christmas,” said Goldstein, who skated in college and was taking Sam for his first run.
Jessica Goldstein, with 1-year-old son Luke in a stroller, said she came to eat traditional foods and meet with friends.
Tanya Sobel, of Northfield, said her sons Joshua, 3, and Caleb, 2, just got new ice skates and were anxious to try them out. Her husband, Ben, used to play ice hockey.
“The boys are getting old enough to ice skate,” Sobel said. “The babies cannot wait. All they want to do is play hockey.”
Wearing a black winter cap shaped like a bear, Fallon Trachtman, 10, of Linwood said skating was her favorite part of the event. She has already been to Rockefeller Center in New York twice this year.
“I just like to skate,” Fallon said.
Her mother, Lynn Trachtman, said she enjoys the family activities that Chabad holds for the Jewish holidays.
Dad Gary Trachtman agreed.
“No matter how religious you are or not, they accept you,” he said.