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Obama, who was joined by first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaYouTube confirms it picked kids featured in Harris video Photos of the Week: Congressional Baseball Game, ashen trees and a beach horse The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Gears begin to shift in Congress on stalled Biden agenda 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.