US President Barack Obama held a Hanukka reception at the White House on
Thursday, 12 days before the Festival of Lights begins.
scheduled to be on vacation in Hawaii on December 20 when Hanukka begins,
prompting the early celebration.
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“We’re jumping the gun just a little
bit. The way I see it, we’re just extending the holiday spirit. We’re stretching
it out. But we do have to be careful that your kids don’t start thinking Hanukka
lasts 20 nights instead of eight. That will cause some problems,” Obama
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and US Supreme Court Justice Ruth
Bader Ginsburg joined a number of rabbis and Jewish leaders as guests at the
In comments made to his guests, the US president suggested the
story of Hanukka should serve as an example of the existence of “miracles in our
own lives” and the need to “honor the sacrifices our ancestors made so that we
might be here today.”
“It’s a timeless story. And for 2,000 years, it has
given hope to Jews everywhere who are struggling. And today, it reminds us that
miracles come in all shapes and sizes. Because to most people, the miracle of
Hanukka would have looked like nothing more than a simple flame, but the
believers in the Temple knew it was something else. They knew it was something
special,” Obama said.
The US president added that Hanukka is “a time to
be grateful for our friendships, both with each other and between our nations.
And that includes, of course, our unshakable support and commitment to the
security of the nation of Israel.”
Obama’s Hanukka party came a day after
Republican presidential candidates met with Jewish Republicans
at a forum in
Washington, slamming the US president for what they called a lack of support for
Speaking before the Hanukka reception on Thursday, Obama rejected
Republican claims that he was an “appeaser” in his Middle East and Israel
“Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22-out-of-30 top al-Qaida leaders
who’ve been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement. Or whoever is
left out there, ask them about that,” he said.