Call it a hockey shtick!
The Islanders celebrated Hanukkah at Barclays Center on Sunday night with an appropriately frosty reception — lighting up a menorah carved out of ice.
And the double-meaning cut both ways, said an organizer — the pro athletes’ perseverance is a great analogy for the festival of lights, which celebrates the triumph of Jewish people over religious persecution.
“A hockey game is one of those places where our message resonates,” said Rabbi Mendy Hecht of Chabad Jewish Center of Prospect Heights, which organized the hockey team’s Jewish Heritage night. “There’s a great message of not giving up.”
Youngster Mendy Abayou lit up the chilly candelabra between the first and second periods, and Hecht said it was a miracle in itself that the sub-zero sculpture stayed intact long enough for him to set each of its candles aflame.
In other celebrations of Jewish heritage, Israeli music superstar Gad Elbaz sang the national anthem before the game, and folk singer Levi Robin performed during a break in the game.
Nearly 100 people turned out specifically for religious festivities, but fans filled every seat in Barclays Center to watch the Islanders beat the New Jersey Devils 4–0, and Hecht said they got involved in the celebration.
“It was great how the families really connected to the Jewish heritage and we got to share our message with the public,” he said.
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