Hanukkah In The White House!

President George W. Bush Celebrates Hanukkah

President George W. Bush Celebrates Hanukkah (Photo By: Shealah Craighead)

Living in New York City, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the Christmas spirit. It’s very easy for Hanukkah to feel like the underdog. A lot of apartment complex and building managers will make a point to include both a menorah and a christmas tree. Besides that you would think Hanukkah’s marketing efforts were at an all time low. Adam Sandler hasn’t done a Hanukkah song in years, Dreidel hasn’t made it to a single casino yet and The History Channel keeps covering the history of Jesus and the New Testament.

You would think that Hanukkah wasn’t getting equal and proper respect in America?  WRONG!! In the White House on December 15th, President George W. Bush hosted a Hanukkah reception in which he delivered remarks during the lighting of the Menorah. (Though the holiday actually started last night, at least they tried.)

Following the lighting, President Bush had a surprise appearance for the audience, Jewish A Capella Group Kol Zimra. They put together a harmonious collection of Hanukkah classics and combined them to create the following…(watch video)

Here’s a little history lesson for you…

President George Bush was the first president to have a Hanukkah Menorah lit in the White House residence (source). He started this tradition in on December 10th, 2001. Here’s a little history as to what the US Presidents did before 2001:

  • President Jimmy Carter walked to Lafayette Park in 1979 and lit one candle or shammash (the candle used to light other candles) in the 30-foot electric silver menorah.
  • President Ronald Reagan visited the Rockville Jewish Community Center in 1983 and gave remarks following the lighting of the menorah.
  • The Synagogue Council of America gave President George H.W. Bush a menorah, which was displayed at the White House in 1989.
  • President Bush participated in a Hanukkah celebration for staff in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in 1991 and also celebrated with children and local Jewish leaders.
  • President William Clinton lit a menorah in the Oval Office in 1997 and joined Israel’s President Ezer Weizman in lighting the first candle of Hanukkah in Jerusalem in 1998.

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