In his annual statement for Chanukah, President Obama pointed out how rare it is to have the holiday and Thanksgiving fall together.
“For the first time since the late 1800s – and for the last time until some 70,000 years from now – the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving. It’s an event so rare some have even coined it “Thanksgivukkah.” As we gather with loved ones around the turkey, the menorah, or both, we celebrate some fortunate timing and give thanks for miracles both great and small.
“As the first Hanukkah candle is lit, we are reminded that our task is not only to secure the blessing of freedom, but to make the most of that blessing once it is secure,” Obama wrote.
“In that spirit Michelle and I look forward to joining members of the Jewish community in America, in the State of Israel, and around the world as we work together to build a future that is bright and full of hope,” Obama concluded.
On Wednesday night about 300 people, including members of the Jewish community and congressmen, gathered in the rain on the Ellipse in front of the White House for the first night of Hanukkah to light a 30-foot gold menorah which has been dubbed the “national menorah.” The event is organized by American Friends of Lubavitch.
Michael Froman, the U.S. Trade Representative helped light the menorah from a forklift, joined by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of the American Friends of Lubavitch, and Shemtov’s father, Rabbi Abraham Shemtov.
The White House first lit a public menorah in 1979.