President Obama Quotes the Novi Zechariah at White House Chanukah Reception

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obama-chanukahOU Kosher CEO Rabbi Menachem Genack, OU President Steve Savitsky, OU CEO Rabbi Steve Weil and OU Director of Public Policy Nathan were among the guests as the Obama White House threw its first Chanukah party last night, opening the doors to more than 500 people on the sixth night of Chanukah.

President Obama made brief remarks at the reception – one of many holiday parties in recent weeks – and then greeted guests for 20 minutes before leaving, attendees said.

At the reception, an a cappella choir from the University of Maryland sang songs and the children of a Navy commander based in Iraq lit the menorah. The White House served a buffet including lamb chops, sushi and latkes, all ordered from a kosher catering company. This came after the White House kashered their kitchen.

Who was there? Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the man at the heart of the ongoing health care debate, as well as Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Al Franken, (D-Minn.). Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) were also in attendance. Administration officials David Axelrod, Desiree Rogers, Susan Sher, Tina Tchen, Jack Lew, Peter Orszag, Dan Shapiro, Stuart Levey and Eric Lesser also attended the party.

Other guests included Rabbi Avraham Shemtov, Chairman of the Agudas Chasidei Chabad umbrella group, and his son, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Washington Director of American Friends of Lubavitch. Another Lubavitcher in attendance was Chanina Sperlin, Vice Chairman of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council. Others in attendance were Jerry Silverman and Kathy Manning of Jewish Federations, Alan Solow chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Jewish Organizations and an early Obama supporter in the campaign, Rabbi Marvin Hier of Wiesenthal Center, and Rabbi David Saperstein.

The following was President Obama’s message at the Chanukah event:

It was more than 2,000 years ago, in the ancient city of Jerusalem, that a small band of believers led by Judah Maccabee rose up and defeated their foreign oppressors – liberating the city and restoring the faith of its people.

And when it came time to rededicate the Temple, the people of Jerusalem witnessed a second miracle: a small amount of oil – enough to light the Temple for a single night – ended up burning for eight. It was a triumph of the few over the many; of right over might; of the light of freedom over the darkness of despair. And ever since that night, in every corner of the world, Jews have lit the Hanukkah candles as symbols of resilience in times of peace, and in times of persecution – in concentration camps and ghettos; war zones and unfamiliar lands. Their light inspires us to hope beyond hope; to believe that miracles are possible even in the darkest of hours.

It is this message of Hanukkah that speaks to us no matter what faith we practice or what beliefs we cherish. Today, the same yearning for justice that drove the Maccabees so long ago inspires the protestors who march for peace and equality even when they know they will be beaten and arrested for it. It gives hope to the mother fighting to give her child a bright future even in the face of crushing poverty. And it invites all of us to rededicate ourselves to improving the lives of those around us, spreading the light of freedom and tolerance wherever oppression and prejudice exist.

This is the lesson we remember tonight – that true acts of strength are possible, in the words of the prophet Zechariah, not by might and not by power, but by spirit alone.

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. thats whats called a
    Taqiyya (Arabic: ?????? – ‘fear, guard against’) is the religiously sanctioned practice of lying or dissimulation.

  2. his speach is disturbing and over generalised.
    It doesnt mention anything about the greeks trying to crush Judaism. He mentioned ‘freedom’ as apose to Jewish people right to practice Jewdaism.

  3. What happened to mentioning the other 25 Congressman as well as at least 5 other Senators. For instance Senator Lautenberg Congressman Eliot Engel,N.Y. Jared Polis of Colorado and John Adler of New Jersey. The president of aipac!


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