Click here for the White House video of the ceremony preceding the Chanuka party I attended. President Bush celebrates the 60th Anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel as well as Chanuka with a little speech. Then the menorah is lit, with a symbolic blessing (since Chanuka won't begin until Sunday night) by the grandsons of President Truman, who received the menorah, and Israel's first prime minister Ben-Gurion. This was indeed the menorah that I took pictures of...and because it has squat little candles inside glass holders, assumed was lit by electricity! Oops!
You'll also hear the group Kol Zimra, with my friend Sam Glaser (the tall guy on the far right in the video). After an interesting event I'll describe in my post tomorrow, my son was asked to join the group! You can read the text of President Bush's remarks (which were distributed to guests, including us, at party's end) here.
Mr. Bush was the first and only President to host a White House Chanuka reception. A topic of discussion with fellow party-goers was whether President-elect Obama will continue the annual event. Most of those to whom I spoke thought he'd have to--but then does that mean there will be an annual Muslim holiday event, too? How about a plaque-presentation by the atheists dissing all religious observances (like we have in our Washington state capitol)? Or will Obama, who has in the past said he favors dividing Jerusalem, choose not to honor America's friendship with Jews and Israel?
By the way, the spelling of Chanuka in English is a phonetic approximation of the Hebrew word, so whatever spelling you like, works. I use the "Ch" to represent the throat sound of the letter Chaf. Some people don't even bother with that non-English sound and just use an "H". I have no idea why some spellings have a double "k."