Biden and Harris host ‘family’ Hanukkah celebration with more than 150 guests

Associated Press/Susan Walsh

President Biden and Vice President Harris hosted a “family” Hanukkah celebration at the White House on Wednesday, where more than 150 guests joined together to commemorate the fourth night of the festival of lights.

Biden, Harris and their spouses — including second gentleman Doug Emhoff, the first Jewish spouse of a president or vice president — gathered with Cabinet members, lawmakers, Jewish community members and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog in the East Wing of the White House.

More than 150 people were in attendance, according to The Associated Press.

Emhoff, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt and Jewish community leader Susie Stern lit the candles on the menorah, which the National Museum of American Jewish History lent to the White House.

The White House is using the Liberty Bell menorah, which was designed by Holocaust survivor Manfred Anson.

“Jewish values are American values,” Emhoff said upon lighting the candles.

Biden, during remarks delivered at the event, likened the story of Hanukkah and the rededication of the Jerusalem temple to his tenure as president, saying “whether it’s in the Temple in Jerusalem or a temple of our democracy, nothing broken or profaned is beyond repair. Nothing.”

“We can always build back better or perhaps build back brighter,” he added.

Biden also brought attention to the rise in antisemitic attacks throughout the U.S., telling event attendees, “We have to stand against the resurgence of this tide of antisemitism and other forms of intolerance and hate here at home and around the world.”

In May, the Anti-Defamation League said antisemitic attacks in the U.S. over a two-week span had increased by 75 percent, a time period that coincided with the 11 days of violent conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza strip which eventually ended with a cease-fire.

Wednesday’s event offered a look into how the White House will celebrate the holidays amid the pandemic and fears of an increasing threat from new COVID-19 omicron variant.

Masked guests gathered in the East Room sitting shoulder-width apart from each other. The event did not feature a reception with food and drinks after the festivities, according to the AP, which has traditionally been held in past years.

Instead, attendees reportedly went home with individually wrapped cookies from the White House kitchen.

The White House kicked off Hanukkah on Sunday with the National Menorah lighting ceremony. Emhoff helped light the candles.

Tags Chuck Schumer Doug Emhoff Hanukkah Holidays Joe Biden Menorah White House

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