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Obama, who was joined by first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama criticizes lack of diversity in politics: one side is 'all white, all men' Obama interrupts Michelle's appearance with 25th anniversary tribute Michelle Obama: Young people feel what's happening now 'not what they were taught' MORE, added that on the sixth night of the Jewish holiday, "we pray its light will bring victims of Sandy and all Americans to a brighter tomorrow."

The menorah was lit by Rabbi Larry Bazer, an Afghanistan war veteran. Obama noted that Bazer had been deployed in Kabul, Afghanistan, as a military chaplain over the last Hanukkah, joking he had turned down an invitation to the White House ceremony.

"We don't get that very often," Obama said. "Usually when we invite people they come."

Entertainment for the event was provided by the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir and the U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra.