Friday, December 03, 2010

White House Hosts Kosher Hanukkah Reception; National Menorah Lit On Ellipse

Last night President Obama and the First Lady hosted a Hanukkah party in the East Room of the White House. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that some 500 people attended, including Rabbi Capers C. Funnye, Jr. who is Michelle Obama's cousin. Among others attending were the three Jewish U.S. Supreme Court Justices-- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. In remarks (full text; video of remarks) the President said:
[A]s we prepare to light another candle on the menorah, let us remember the sacrifices that others have made so that we may all be free. Let us pray for the members of our military who guard that freedom every day, and who may be spending this holiday far away from home. Let us also think of those for whom these candles represent not just a triumph of the past, but also hope for the future -- the men, women and children of all faiths who still suffer under tyranny and oppression.
The White House program also included a tribute to Jewish-American composers by the U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra.  The menu for the evening-- reported in elaborate detail by the White House-- included this information about the strict level of kosher supervision involved: "All meats are Glatt Kosher--Chassidishe Shechitah. All baked goods are Pas Yisroel. All wines are Mevushal. All foods have been prepared Lemihadrin with a Mashgiach Temidi."

On Wednesday evening, the National Menorah was lit on the Ellipse near the White House in a ceremony that included performances by violinist Itzhak Perlman and the U.S. Navy Band.  WTOP News reported that participants braved a cold wind as the first candle was lit with help from Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew, the highest ranking Jewish member of the President's cabinet. The National Christmas Tree will join the Menorah on the Ellipse on Dec. 9.