The theme of this year’s community Hanukkah celebration is fire and ice, and the key feature will be a menorah made of ice that will be set alight.
The event, organized by Chabad Center for Jewish Life, is set for Sunday at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St.
Outside, ice carvers will create a 7-foot ice menorah beginning at 2 p.m. City officials will light the menorah at 5 p.m. An indoor Hanukkah celebration featuring food, music and entertainment will follow at 5:30 p.m.
Hanukkah is a fitting holiday for a community celebration, Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel of Chabad Center said.
“What’s unique about Hanukkah versus all other Jewish holidays is that its message is very universal,” he said. “Every person has the right to express their beliefs.”
The eight-day celebration of Hanukkah, known as the Festival of Lights, begins Wednesday evening this year and thus overlaps with Thanksgiving Day — an extremely rare calendar occurrence.
The daily lighting of eight-branched candelabras called menorahs symbolizes the triumph over religious oppression the Jews won when they recaptured their temple from the Syrian Greeks. The Hanukkah story says the enemy desecrated all but enough oil to burn for one day in the temple menorah, but the oil miraculously lasted eight days, long enough for new pure oil to be produced.
In addition to the downtown menorah lighting, Lawrence Jews are planning several other public Hanukkah events.
• The Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation normally plans its Hanukkah potluck on a Friday night but pushed this year’s event back to avoid having it the day after Thanksgiving, Rabbi Moti Rieber said. The potluck is set for 5:45 p.m. Dec. 4 at 917 Highland Drive. Attendees bring menorahs from home to light at the synagogue before dinner. Those wishing to attend are asked to call the office at 841-7636.
• The Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation’s regular weekly services will go on as planned Friday evening, with the Shabbat at 7 p.m., followed by an Oneg at 8 p.m.
• The Chabad Center Festibowl is Tuesday at the Kansas Union, 1301 Jayhawk Blvd. A menorah will be lit at 6:30 p.m. at the Baumgartner Terrace outside the first floor, with bowling and other activities from 7 to 9 p.m. at Jaybowl.
• Chabad Center is helping organize a Hanukkah celebration at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Kansas state capitol in Topeka. For more information or to reserve a seat on the bus visit Chabad’s website, jewishku.com.