Washington -- President Bush hosted
an early Hanukkah reception at the White House on December
6, where he lit a menorah (nine-pronged candelabra) sent to
Washington by the Park Synagogue of Cleveland.
President George W. Bush participates in the Menorah lighting at the White House with Rabbi Joshua Skoff and members of the Skoff family, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2005, prior to the annual White House Hanukkah reception.
The president described the Jewish holiday,
which will begin at sundown on December 25, as a commemoration
of "freedom over oppression, and of hope shining through
Bush also described the occasion as one
for Americans to give thanks for their freedom of worship,
and to pray that those who still live in the darkness of
tyranny will some day see the light of freedom.
The president met earlier in the day with
Jewish day school leaders, and praised their dedication
to ensuring the transmission of traditions to younger generations.
Hanukkah commemorates the rededication,
in 164 B.C., of the second Jewish Temple at Jerusalem, following
the defeat of the Seleucid king, Antiochus III. Because
the Jewish calendar is based on a lunar year, the holiday
falls on a different day each year under the solar-based
Gregorian calendar now in general use.
A transcript of the president's remarks
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
December 6, 2005
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT HANUKKAH RECEPTION
5:37 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: 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
When the Maccabees returned to reclaim their
holy temple, the oil that should have lasted only one day
instead burned for eight 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 Synagogue 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
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. Thank you.
END 5:41 P.M. EST