George W. Bush photo

Remarks on Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah

December 06, 2005

Welcome to the White House. Laura and I are glad you're here, and we're glad to be here to celebrate the festival of Hanukkah. Hanukkah begins later this month. It's a time to remember the story of a miracle once witnessed in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

More than 2,000 years ago, the ancient land of Israel was conquered, and Jewish people were forbidden to pray, observe their religious customs, or study the Torah. In response, a patriot named Judah Maccabee led a revolt against the enemy army. Their numbers were small, yet their courage in defense of their faith was powerful, and they were triumphant.

When the Maccabees returned to reclaim their Holy Temple, the oil that should have lasted only 1 day, instead burned for 8 days. During Hanukkah, Jews across the world signify this miracle by lighting the menorah. This act commemorates the victory of freedom over oppression and of hope shining through darkness. Today, that light still burns in Jewish homes and synagogues everywhere. And today, that light will burn here in the White House.

Laura and I are honored to have a beautiful menorah here from Park Synagogue in Cleveland, Ohio. Rabbi Skoff, thank you very much for sharing it with us. I also want to thank Rabbi Barry Gelman for his prayer and thank him for his deep compassion. As he mentioned, he is the rabbi from the United Orthodox Synagogues in Houston, whose members did so much to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

I want to thank the West Point Jewish Cadet Choir for being here with us this evening. Our Nation is grateful to the American troops of all faiths who are serving our country around the world and who are away from their families this holiday.

The word "Hanukkah" and the Hebrew word for education both come from the same root word that means "to dedicate." And earlier today, I met with some of the leaders from our Nation's Jewish day schools. As educators who dedicate themselves to teaching the faith and to teaching, they are fulfilling the true lesson of Hanukkah every day of the year. Just as the Maccabees reclaimed their Holy Temple, these teachers help ensure that Jewish traditions are passed from generation to generation.

Tonight as we prepare to light the candles, we are grateful for our freedoms as Americans, especially the freedom to worship. We are grateful that freedom is spreading to still new regions of the world, and we pray that those who still live in the darkness of tyranny will some day see the light of freedom.

And now I invite Rabbi Skoff and his daughter and family to join me for the symbolic lighting of the White House menorah. The honor is yours.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5:37 p.m. in the Bookseller's Area in the East Wing at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Rabbi Joshua Skoff, Park Synagogue, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and his daughter, Eden.

George W. Bush, Remarks on Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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