Obama marks start of Hanukkah
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President Obama on Friday marked the start of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, offering well wishes to those who celebrate in the U.S. and worldwide.

"As night falls over each of the next eight days, Jews in the United States, Israel and around the world will gather to light their Hanukkah menorahs, display them proudly in the window and recall the miracles of both ancient times and the present day," Obama said in a statement.

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"For more than two millennia, the story of Hanukkah has reminded the world of the Jewish people's perseverance and the persistence of faith, even against daunting odds."

The eight-day holiday begins Saturday at sundown.

Obama linked the celebration of the Jewish holiday to the country's right to freedom of religion.

"For more than two centuries, the meaning of this holiday has inspired an American tradition of religious freedom — one codified in the Bill of Rights and chronicled in the enduring promise President George Washington made in his letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island: that the United States 'gives bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,' " he said.

The president annually releases a statement wishing Americans and others a Happy Hanukkah, as he does for Christmas and other religious holidays throughout the year.