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A Beltway Chanukah

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

I realize that that our calendar is very confusing. I also realize that it is hard for some to understand that Jews don’t celebrate Christmas.

Take the White House.

Here is the invitation that was sent for this year’s Chanukah reception:

white house chanukah invite 1

It’s a little tough to make out, but down on the lower right-hand side there is a Christmas Tree in the sleigh. Yup. A nice evergreen, its life brutally chopped short for the edification of Yuletide celebrants, smack-dab on the front of a Chanukah invitation.

Now. I don’t mean to imply that the White House should refrain from sending out Christmas cards. Nor do I have anything against this particular card. In fact, I think it is a very lovely portrait. Just inappropriate for a CHANUKAH card!

Let’s take a look at the actual invitation:

chanukah white house invite 2

Very nice. We can quibble about the correct spelling of Chanukah (Hanukah, Januka, Khanuka, etc.) ’til the cows come home and we would be hardpressed to reach a concensus. What I found odd is that this “Hanukkah reception” was held the week before Chanukah actually begins. And an actual Chanukiah (on loan from the Truman library) was lit by President Truman’s grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, and Ben Gurion’s grandson, Yariv Ben-Eliezer, and WITH the blessing recited. The menorah had been a gift from David Ben Gurion to President Truman as a symbol of their friendship. It was just a little strange seeing the Chanukiah lit as though we were already in the midst of the festival.

From what I understand, a good time was had by all. Full remarks made by President Bush can be found here and a video of the remarks and a lovely vocal presentation by Kol Zimra can be found here.

I leave you with what has to be the best picture; Mrs. Bush and the mashgichim.

kashered white house

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, 16 December 2008 3:30 pm

    We can quibble about the correct spelling of Chanukah (Hanukah, Januka, Khanuka, etc.)

    Ok, I am familiar with all of those variations except Januka. That is a new one.

  2. knittnkitten permalink
    Tuesday, 16 December 2008 7:24 pm

    I’m all for the “any reason for a party is a good reason” theory, however, I also believe in doing “a given thing in a given way at a given time”.

  3. Wednesday, 17 December 2008 7:46 am

    oy vey.

  4. Ruth B permalink
    Thursday, 18 December 2008 1:19 pm

    Well, I can’t really blame the White House for doing Hannuka early.

    I’m going to vent my Scroogenberg rant here:

    My congregation had a Hannuka concert/fundraiser on Dec 6, 3 weeks before the beginning of Hannuka. I had to suppress cringing visibly (I am a board member) when our president announced this was THE event to attend to launch the “Hannuka season.” Bleh humbug.

    Here’s my dilemma: In terms of fundraising, this concert was a fantastic success, so I can’t argue against it. That, and our rabbi is a rock star (this is not meant perjoratively at all) and this concert was a CD release event for his new Hannuka CD.
    But the continued conflation of Hannuka with Christmas grates on me. I do understand that getting Jews to “do Jewish” is a good thing, and all of this “Hannuka season” stuff gives folks a non-Christmas outlet to get through the winter solstice month. I confess to being frustrated that all of this energy is placed here, with 600+ people coming to a Hannuka concert, when I wonder if half of the people in the room could even name the shalosh chaggim regallim, much less consider observing them. If the 1st day of Pesach or Shavout or Sukkot falls during the week, our 700+ household congregation only has a 50/50 chance of pulling a minyan for sacharit–and that’s counting both of the paid clergy and the sefer Torah.

    Forget the White House. I wish I my Jewish community would observe Hannuka at its proper time.

  5. Friday, 19 December 2008 4:06 pm

    Yeah, my congregation had a Channukah party before Channukah, too, so I certainly can’t fault the White House. It’s all a matter of scheduling. And yes, I do use as many letters as possible for Hanuka.

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