“Sometimes it takes just a little light to chase away the darkness.” – Rabbi Mordechai Newman, Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington.
And so the tone was set for a joy-filled evening of family ice skating in celebration of Chanukah. The Our Kids review team (2 adults and four kids ages 4 through 13) was hesitant before attending this event simply because we are not members of the Lubavitch synagogue. What we experienced, however, was a very fun event which was welcoming to families of all levels of religious observance. We were very impressed by how easily this simple outing put us into the holiday frame of mind. It will now be an annual tradition for our family.
For one evening every December, around the time of Chanukah, the Arlington/Alexandria Chabad rents the outdoor ice skating rink at Pentagon Row in Pentagon City, Arlington. For an admission of $12.00 per person (including skate rental), patrons can enjoy skating to Israeli and Jewish holiday music. This particular evening was beautiful and the trees surrounding the rink were lit with twinkle lights and electric ‘falling stars,’ which set a magical mood for the Holiday of Lights. Since the night was unseasonably warm, the young members were not discouraged by cold and stayed on the ice the entire time. Traditional fried Chanukah food such as latkes ($1.50 for 3), sufganyiot or donuts ($1.50 for a package) and kosher hot dogs ($2.50 each) were available for purchase.
Halfway through the two hour outing, there was a brief candle-lighting ceremony mc’d by Rabbi Newman, which acknowledged the contributions of local officers in the Arlington County Police Department who lit the large menorah. Traditional songs such as “I Have a Little Dreidel” and “Chanukah, O Chanukah” were sung with ruach (spirit or enthusiasm) and then it was back to ice skating.
The two youngest members of the review team had never been on skates before, so the small rink at Pentagon Row was not overwhelming; parents could quickly reach their children if needed. There were overturned buckets and wide-edged skates available to stabilize beginning skaters. While I am not discerning enough to know whether the rented skates were of good quality, they were fine for our newbie purposes; we saw parents there who had brought their own skating accessories and teaching tools. The Pentagon Row staff was friendly and very patient with the skaters. The other skaters and staff were quick to make sure that anyone who had fallen were not hurt and people gladly helped each other get back to their feet.
Since the dates of Chanukah change every year, it is recommended to check the calendar online at www.chabadalexandria.org toward the end of November to find out the exact date of Chanukah on Ice. Further information on Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington can be found online.
From now on, in our family, we will be singing: “Chanukah, O Chanukah, Come Light the Menorah! Let’s have a party, we’ll all skate the Hora.”