National Menorah Lights Up for Hanukkah (photos)
A special lighting ceremony took place for the National Hanukkah Menorah, the world’s largest, on the Ellipse, just across from the White House on the first night of the eight-day Jewish holiday. The Jewish calendar follows the course of the moon. This year, the first day of Chanukah fell on Thanksgiving, an event so rare it is not scheduled to happen again for thousands of years. Despite the holiday's occurrence in November, the weather was very winter-like -- cold, wet and windy.
The first candle on the National Menorah was lit on Wednesday, Nov. 27, by special guest, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. The United States Air Force Band, award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari and "The Three Cantors" performed. The national menorah lighting dates to 1979 when Jimmy Carter was president. Hanukkah celebrates the Jewish Maccabees' military victory over Greek-Syrian oppression more than 2,000 years ago. A candle is lit each night of the eight-day celebration, commemorating the miracle of one day's supply of oil lasting a full eight days in the lamp following the re dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Following the ceremony, those in attendance were treated to hot traditional Hanukkah latkes (potato pancakes), donuts and cookies. The annual free event is sponsored by American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), represented by Rabbi Levi Shemtov and his father Rabbi Abraham Shemtov.
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