George W. Bush photo

Remarks on Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah and an Exchange With Reporters

December 22, 2003

The President. Thank you all. Welcome.

Hanukkah celebrates a great miracle and a great victory, the triumph of faith over tyranny. More than 2,000 years ago, the land of ancient Israel had been conquered, and the practice of Judaism was outlawed. Yet a patriot named Judah Maccabee and his followers courageously captured Jerusalem. As the Maccabees prepared to rededicate the holy temple, they found enough oil to last for only one day. But the oil lasted for 8 days, a miracle that we remember by lighting the menorah.

The Jewish tradition calls on us to honor every commandment with works of beauty. This beautiful menorah, more than two centuries old, is from the Spertus Museum in Chicago, and Laura and I are honored to have it here at the White House.

I want to thank the Kol Sasson from the great University of Maryland for joining us today, and thank you for lending your beautiful voice for this occasion.

Tonight as we prepare to light the candles, we hope and pray that all who live under tyranny will see their day of freedom and that the light of faith will always shine through the darkness. We also pray for the brave men and women of our Armed Forces, many of whom are spending the holiday season far from home and their loved ones. We are grateful for their service to America. We're grateful for the support and sacrifice of their families.

And now, Jacob Murphy and Sidney Hallem will help us light the candles. Their fathers are serving in our United States Armed Forces with distinction and with honor.

[At this point, the menorah was lit.]

Holiday Travel

Q. Mr. President, do you have any words for Americans who are worried about traveling this holiday season?

The President. My words are these: Our Government is doing everything we can to protect our country. We've got a lot of really decent, hard-working Americans who will be working over the holiday season to do everything we can to protect Americans from harm. And I want to thank them for their efforts, thank them for their hard work. American citizens need to go about their lives, but as they do so, they need to know that governments at all levels are working as hard as we possibly can to protect the American citizens.

Thank you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 4:32 p.m. in the Bookseller's Area in the East Wing at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to a cappella singing group Kol Sasson.

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

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