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E.L. community celebrates Chanukah on Ice

Chanukah on Ice

Photo: Katy Joe DeSantis

Five-year-old Avremel Weingarten looks around the ice Monday night at Munn Ice Arena during the third annual Chanukah on Ice, held by the Chabad House of Greater Lansing and MSU.

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Video: Ashley Brown

Potato pancakes, jelly doughnuts and ice skates take Hanukkah from traditional to family fun with a twist as the Jewish community of Lansing and East Lansing celebrate the sixth night of the winter holiday.

STATE NEWS, December 6, 2010. Celebrating the sixth night in the Festival of Lights with food, family and ice skating, about 100 people attended Chanukah on Ice at Munn Ice Arena on Monday.

Sponsored by the Greater Lansing Jewish Welfare Federation with an unspecified grant from the Ravitz Foundation, the event brought together three Lansing-area Jewish congregations to host and support the evening’s festivities, said Susan Herman, director of the Michigan Jewish Conference and coordinator of the Statewide Jewish Outreach.

“Our goal is to help generate Jewish contingency and vibrancy in Michigan,” she said. “We’re going to continue to pursue resources to help the smaller communities keep activities like this happening.”

Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian-Greek government, the rededication of the Temple and the freedom for Jews to practice their religion, said Stan Kaplowitz, social psychology professor and president of the Greater Lansing Jewish Welfare Federation.

“We’re going to be lighting the menorah, or hanukkaiah, singing some songs and eating traditional foods,” he said. “It’s also a good time of the year to ice skate along with traditional activities.”

After lighting the sixth menorah candle, participants scattered to get either a taste of the warm latkes covered in applesauce or jelly-filled donuts. Children also played games and decorated Hanukkah arts and crafts before skating on the ice.

Some, such as Rabbi Amy Bigman, were glad to see people from three Lansing and East Lansing congregations come together to celebrate the holiday.

“This is an opportunity for communities to come together,” she said. “We’re a small Jewish community and when we can come together to celebrate a holiday, it’s a great testament to the Jewish community.”

Program organizer Erica Holman said because of the grant from the Ravitz Foundation, the event was able to include everyone from the local Jewish community.

“The goal was to bring different members of the community together,” she said. “It’s very unusual to have an event with an orthodox rabbi, a reform rabbi (and) this gave us a forum that was uplifting and neutral.”

The event was publicized for the East Lansing Jewish community, but all are welcome to attend future events, Kaplowitz said.

“It doesn’t require any proof that you’re Jewish,” he said. “Anyone can come.”

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