For decades, each year, presidents have hosted holiday parties at The White House in December. In 2001, George W. Bush became the first President of the United States to place an official “Chanukah Party” on The White House schedule – and one catered with kosher food to boot.
Each year, the competition is intense among Jewish leaders and notables (not to mention would-be leaders and notables) to get invited to the event. And each year, The White House has made sure to “spread the wealth” and invite new people from across the spectrum of U.S. Jewry – including many who disagree with the President’s policies.
Now, some in the community and media are having fun, or even taking offense, with the fact that when the invitations arrived for this year’s White House Chanukah Party, they were illustrated with a scene of a horse-drawn cart delivering The White House Christmas tree.
To make this – or any President’s – gracious hospitality the subject of jest is chutzpah of the highest order.
Not only is George W. Bush the first to place a Chanukah Party on The White House calendar, but when the fact of this event is considered in the context of Jewish history – a history of centuries of persecution and exclusion – a sensible person’s only reaction can be one of gratitude for the freedom Jews enjoy in the United States of America and respect and appreciation for this nation’s president.