December 18: Chanukah was celebrated at The White House with President and Mrs. Bush hosting a menorah lighting and Chanukah party. It is notable that while previous Presidents had marked Chanukah in various ways, President George W. Bush is the first to place an official Chanukah Reception on the White House calendar every December.
The event is a true testament to what a welcoming country the United States is for Jews. As if having such a party were not enough, the reception is catered fully kosher and finds a military band playing appropriate Chanukah music. Also, in a remarkable act of religious sensitivity, an aide asks of the men and women standing in a receiving line to meet the President and First Lady whether they wish or do not wish to shake hands their host of the opposite gender. “Only in America” as the cliche goes.
Many leaders of the Orthodox Union and related institutions participated in the gala event. (Video of the menorah lighting and the President’s remarks may be viewed at
At the party, the OU leaders had the opportunity to meet the President and First Lady, as well as many senior officials including White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, Deputy Chiefs of Staff Karl Rove and Joel Kaplan, Deputy Director of Policy Tevi Troy, Deputy NSC Director Elliott Abrams and many others as well as leaders from a spectrum of Jewish organizations ranging from Aipac to Agudath Israel to JCPA to Hillel and many more.
As mentioned, at the behest of First Lady Laura Bush, the entire party menu was comprised of kosher food to the highest standards of kashrus. (For a photo of Mrs. Bush with the “kosherizing” team, see
Unique Chanukah celebrations in other venues in the capital continued throughout the week. OU/IPA staff participated in a Capitol Hill Chanukah Party put on by American Friends of Lubavitch, a Chanukah reception hosted by the Embassy of India and a Chanukah reception at the home of Hon. Sallai Meridor – Israel’s new ambassador to the United States.