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Obama, who was joined by first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle ObamaInstagram taps former Michelle Obama, Clinton aide to lead communications Americans should get used to pop culture blending with politics Michelle responds to Barack with her own Valentine's tweet 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.