President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama feted Chanukah and the Jewish community with a grand Chanukah Reception at The White House last night – the second night of the holiday.
Orthodox Union leaders privileged to attend included President Stephen Savitsky and Executive Vice President Rabbi Steve Weil and IPA director Nathan Diament. Other guests included a broad range of rabbis, Jewish community lay leaders and activists; as well as Senators (we spotted Cardin, Wyden, Specter & Lautenberg) Congressmen (we spotted Brad Sherman, Shelly Berkley, Jan Schakowsky, Debbie W. Schultz), “one third of the Supreme Court” (Breyer, Ginsberg & Kagan), as Obama said, cabinet officials and more.
The formal portion of the program included remarks by the President (which included his offer of aid to Israel as the Jewish state combats the raging Carmel fire); the lighting of a Menorah from OU member synagogue Congregation Beth Israel of New Orleans and a moving singing by all assembled of Maoz Tzur. You can watch the whole program here.
If you want to read the delicious – glatt kosher menu – here’s the “pool report:”
After the formal program, guests had the opportunity to meet and speak with the President and First Lady in a receiving line.
Reflecting on this event, one cannot help but note how privileged American Jews are to live in this country at this time. For centuries, Jews could not imagine being welcomed to the home of their head of state in a way remotely resembling this; our ancestors were persectued and expelled by rulers. Here, the President of the United States invites hundreds to celebrate Chanukah in The White House, pledges aid to “friends” in Israel and serves up glatt kosher fare. One can only say: “God Bless America.”
Posted by Nathan J. Diament