Tragedy & inspiration: The story of the menorah used at the White House Hanukkah celebration
To mark the final night of Hanukkah, the White House has posted a new video telling the story of the menorah that was used during the candle lighting ceremony at President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama's Hanukkah reception, held on December 2 at the White House, the second night of the holiday. (Above: The First Lady, the President, and the Vice President with the menorah)
The menorah came from Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans, which lost seven torahs and 3,000 books when the temple was flooded with twelve feet of water.
“As the cleanup crew dug through the rubble, they discovered this menorah, caked in dirt and mold,” President Obama said before the menorah was lit. “And today it stands as a reminder of the tragedy and a source of inspiration for the future.”
Just before the candle lighting at the reception, Rabbi Uri Topolosky spoke of the importance of the menorah, and its refurbishment:
Congregation Beth Israel has just broken ground on a new synagogue and they will light the menorah as part of the dedication ceremonies next year at Hanukkah.
The candles were lit at the White House reception by Susan Retik and her children. Retik's husband, David, died in the terror attacks of 9/11, and she now aids Afghan war widows through the "Beyond the 11th" foundation. (Left, Molly Retik lights one of the candles as her mother and the First Lady and President look on)
*White House video; photo by Pete Souza/White House