Obamas host final Hanukkah celebrations at White House

President Obama and first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaWarren praises Ocasio-Cortez in Time 100 Beyoncé in 'Time 100' profile: Michelle Obama empowers black Americans Time 100 list almost half women for the the first time MORE hosted their final White House Hanukkah celebrations on Wednesday evening, more than a week before the holiday begins this year. 

The Obamas held two celebrations on Wednesday, in the afternoon and in the evening, to mark the occasion.


"Michelle and I are going to be in Hawaii when Hanukkah begins, and we agreed that it’s never too soon to enjoy some latkes and jelly donuts,” Obama joked to start the event.

Hanukkah begins on the evening of Dec. 24 this year.

"This is our second Hanukkah party today, but in the spirit of the holiday, the White House kitchen has not run out of oil.” 

The Obamas told the story of Hanukkah before lighting a menorah. 

At the earlier ceremony, the Obamas honored Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize winner who died earlier this year. 

Wiesel’s family attended the afternoon celebration, and the Obamas lit a menorah that was made by one of his grandchildren. 

The president acknowledged some of his guests at the later celebration and also noted the presence of Merrick Garland, his unsuccessful nominee for the Supreme Court.  

"We’ve got one of the country’s finest jurists, who I happened to have nominated to the Supreme Court and who’s going to continue to serve our country with distinction as the chief judge on the D.C. circuit, Merrick Garland is here," Obama said. 
Supreme Court justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were also among Wednesday night's guests.