The special menorah at the White House Hanukka Reception on Wednesday was commissioned from the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Arab-Jewish Bilingual School in Jerusalem that was attacked and badly damaged in an arson attack last month. Three men, who according to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), belong to the Jewish extremist group Lehava, were charged with the attack.
Made of wood and painted in different colors, each of the menorah's eight branches represents one of the values on which the school was founded: Community, Education, Freedom, Human Dignity, Peace, Equality, Solidarity, and Friendship.
Vardi and Mouran Ibrahim, two Israeli 9th-grade students from the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School, flew in with their parents to light the menorah at the ceremony.
US President Barack Obama presided over the menorah lighting at the White House with a "message of freedom."
With First Lady Michelle Obama at his side, and approximately 550 guests in attendance, Obama wasted no time connecting the 8-day Jewish holiday to the historic Cuba policy changes he announced earlier in the day, which led to the release of jailed Jewish-American Alan Gross.
"I'm told that in the Jewish tradition one of the great mitzvah's is 'pinion sabihin'," said Obama, "It describes the redemption, the freeing of captives. And that's what were celebrating today because after being unjustly held for more than five years, Alan Gross is free." Obama was referring to the religious duty of Pidyon Shvuyim
or Redemption of Captives.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>