WASHINGTON--The Obama White House hosted a large Hanukkah party on Thursday for some 600 on the sixth night of the festival. As is the custom, the White House kitchen was koshered for the event. And the crowd sang the brachas, the blessings, as Rabbi Larry Bazer, the Joint Forces Chaplain for the Massachusetts National Guard lit the menorah--damaged during Hurricane Sandy.
Among those attending from Chicago:
Alan and Andrea Solow
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
Judd and Linda Miner
Said Obama: "So tonight, as we gather to light the sixth candle of Hanukkah, we remember an enduring story of resilience and optimism. Over 2,000 years ago, a tyrant forbade the Israelites from practicing their religion and his forces desecrated the Holy Temple. So Judah Maccabee gathered a small band of believers to fight this oppression, and against all odds, they prevailed. And the Maccabees liberated Jerusalem and restored the faith of its people. And when they went to reclaim the Temple, the people of Jerusalem received another gift from God -- the oil that should have lasted only one night burned for eight. That miraculous flame brought hope and it sustained the faithful."
And about the menorah:
Said Obama, "The menorah that we're using tonight and the man who will light it are both powerful symbols of that spirit. Six weeks ago, the Temple Israel Synagogue in Long Beach, New York, was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. But this 90-year-old menorah survived, and I am willing to bet it will survive another 90 years, and another 90 years after that. So tonight, it shines as a symbol of perseverance, and as a reminder of those who are still recovering from Sandy's destruction -- a reminder of resilience and hope and the fact that we will be there for them as they recover."
Click below for the complete transcript.
A White House spokesman told me 600 people were invited for the 2012 Hanukkah reception; in 2011 there were 550 invitees and 550 for 2009.
During the Bush years, there were 265 invitees in 2001; 373 in 2002; 500 in 2003; 387 in 2004; 427 in 2005; 477 in 2006; 584 in 2007; and 520 in 2008.
Rock of Ages Department
My 2011 Hanukkah party report is HERE
My 2010 Hanukkah party report is HERE
My 2009 Hanukkah party report is HERE