White House Chief of Staff Lights National Hanukkah Menorah

By Gary Feuerberg
Gary Feuerberg
Gary Feuerberg
December 14, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

LIGHTING NATIONAL MENORAH: At dusk on Sunday, Dec. 13, the 'National Menorah' was lit. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is being lifted in the cherry picker to reach the Hanukkah Menorah, which is said to be the largest in the world. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)
LIGHTING NATIONAL MENORAH: At dusk on Sunday, Dec. 13, the 'National Menorah' was lit. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is being lifted in the cherry picker to reach the Hanukkah Menorah, which is said to be the largest in the world. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)
WASHINGTON—The National Menorah was lit at nightfall Sunday during a ceremony on the Ellipse near the White House. One candle will be lit each night for a total of eight nights. This year the U.S. Air Force Band provided music.

Hanukkah is one of the principal holidays of the Jewish faith, and the key tradition of the holiday the lighting of a candelabra, called a menorah. Hanukkah in Hebrew means dedication or consecration.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who is Jewish, lit the Hanukkah Menorah standing on a cherry picker. Weather was cold and rainy, but the rain let up just before the ceremony began, which some of the onlookers said they interpreted to mean the ceremony was blessed. This year, the Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) actually began last Friday evening at sundown.

The lighting of the National Menorah first occurred during President Carter’s presidency in 1979. It is the largest menorah in the world, according to the National Menorah Council, which sponsors the annual lighting. The name “National Menorah” is not official; it is just what people are calling it.

The National Menorah Council Web site states: “In this way, we reaffirm the celebration of our freedom, inspired by the historic and present victory of right over might, light over darkness, and understanding and justice over intolerance and bigotry.”