Thursday, December 18, 2014

White House Hosts Two Hanukkah Receptions [UPDATED POST]

President and Mrs. Obama hosted the first of two White House Hanukkah receptions late yesterday afternoon as again this year the guest list was too long for only a single reception.  In his remarks (full text), the President first discussed the freeing earlier in the day of Alan Gross who had been held by Cuba for over five years.  The traditional lighting of the menorah focused on two students and a parent from a bilingual school in Jerusalem that brings Jewish and Muslim students together. Their school was hit by arsonists two weeks ago. They built a menorah around the theme of their school's values and brought it to be used at the reception. Introducing them, President Obama said:
So Inbar and Mouran and their fellow students teach us a critical lesson for this time in our history:  The light of hope must outlast the fires of hate.
The White House posted a 10-minute video of the President's remarks and those of Rabbi  Bradley Shavit Artson who led the blessings in lighting the Hanukkah candles.

A few hours later the President hosted the second reception. (Full text of remarks.)  At this reception, a menorah from children in Yemin Orde, a village in Israel founded in 1953 to provide a safe haven to orphans and young immigrants after the Holocaust, was used.  The candles were lit by a Yemin Orde graduate, along with Dr. Adam Levine who recently returned from fighting ebola in Liberia. Manhattan Rabbi Angela Buchdahl recited the blessings.