Bidens, Harris, Emhoff Celebrate Hanukkah at White House

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., second from right, lights the menorah in the East Room of the White House in Washington, during an event to celebrate Hanukkah, Wednesday, Dec. 1. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses held a "family" celebration of Hanukkah at the White House Wednesday, with the first Jewish spouse of a vice president, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, joining in lighting the menorah.

Speaking to more than 150 guests, including Jewish community leaders, Cabinet members, lawmakers and the new Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Herzog, Biden sought to draw parallels between his presidency and the eight-day commemoration of the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees.

"Whether it's in the temple of Jerusalem or the temple of our democracy, nothing broken or profaned is beyond repair, nothing," Biden said. "We can always build back better, perhaps build back brighter."

"Whether it's in the temple of Jerusalem or the temple of our democracy, nothing broken or profaned is beyond repair, nothing," Biden said. "We can always build back better, perhaps build back brighter."




Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff kiss during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, to light the menorah to celebrate Hanukkah, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Acknowledging his history-making role as he joined Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Jewish leaders to light the menorah marking the fourth night of Hanukkah, Emhoff said, "Jewish values are American values."

The event provided the first taste of the administration's pared-down holiday plans amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the new threat of the omicron variant. The guests, all wearing masks, sat shoulder to shoulder in the East Room for the event, which did not include the customary reception of food and drink afterward. 

Instead, guests were given individually decorated and wrapped cookies prepared by the White House kitchen to mark the holiday as they left the bedecked residence.

The menorah chosen for the occasion was the Liberty Bell menorah, designed by Holocaust survivor Manfred Anson. It is on loan to the White House from the National Museum of American Jewish History.

#Interfaith is a self-paced, online learning opportunity designed to equip a new generation of leaders with the awareness and skills to promote interfaith cooperation online. The curriculum is free to Interfaith America readers; please use the scholarship code #Interfaith100. #Interfaith is presented by IFYC in collaboration with ReligionAndPublicLife.org.

 

more from IFYC

Join IFYC on February 7 at 10 AM CT for an important conversation with Black thought-leaders, activists, and organizers engaged in on-the-ground efforts to destigmatize HIV and eradicate the virus.
The metaverse has dramatic implications that should make all of us sit up, lean in, and claim our role in shaping the worlds within the world that is being created.  
A chance encounter with an army chaplain put Colonel Khallid Shabazz's military career on a different path.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who survived a hostage-taking at his synagogue last Saturday, gave the closing remarks at an online White House briefing Friday, with an impassioned plea for civility.
Rather than focusing on canonical doctrines, a workshop trains educators to teach “lived religion” -- all the creative things that people do with their traditions.
The Vietnamese Buddhist monk, described as 'the second most famous Buddhist in the world, after the Dalai Lama,' by one expert, founded a worldwide network of monastic centers. He once said: "My life is my teaching. My life is my message.”
Many content creators use their platforms to build community beyond their brick-and-mortar congregations, to dispel myths, break stereotypes and invite people from diverse faiths to get a glimpse into their lives.
IFYC's innovative online learning experience, #Interfaith: Engaging Religious Diversity Online, offers lessons on how to approach others online in a way that leads to building bridges.
Lessons from Thich Nhat Hanh, the person who nominated Martin Luther King Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize and encouraged King to speak out against the war in Vietnam.
What Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and activist Thich Nhat Hanh taught me about the power of mindful breathing through art.
A scholar of democratic virtues explains why Dominican monk Thomas Aquinas’ thoughts on hope are relevant today.
From covering spirituality in Silicon Valley to writing an online newsletter about her own journey to Judaism, reporter Nellie Bowles keeps finding innovative ways to reflect on religion and technology.
Six ways religious and spiritual leaders can help the internet serve their communities right now.
At the request of his editors at Religion News Service, Omar Suleiman writes about waiting with hostages’ families.
Regardless of what happens on Capitol Hill, the PNBC leaders said they plan to lobby Congress in March and register voters weekly in their congregations and communities.
King’s exasperation at self-satisfied white Christians holds up a mirror that is still painfully accurate today.
A day before the U.S. Senate was expected to take up significant legislation on voting rights that is looking likely to fail, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s eldest son condemned federal lawmakers over their inaction.
The congregation’s rabbi, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, is particularly well connected to the larger interfaith community and on good terms with many Muslim leaders.
For Martin Luther King Day, an interfaith panel reflects on the sacredness of the vote and the legacy of Reverend King.
In his new book, Princeton historian Julian E. Zelizer reexamines the life of Abraham Joshua Heschel and finds lessons for interfaith political activism today.
King drew criticism from Billy Graham, who told journalists that he thought King was wrong to link anti-war efforts with the civil rights movement.

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.